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Governor, Oklahoma lawmakers reach deal on budget

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: January 27, 2010 at 6:47 am •  Published: January 27, 2010

/> About $223 million of the Rainy Day Fund will be used to balance the 2010 fiscal year budget; the rest will be available for the 2011 fiscal year.

To receive about $1.2 billion in stimulus funds, the state was required to maintain certain funding levels for public education and health care.

The budget agreement, coming days before Monday’s start of this year’s legislative session, applies only to the current 2010 fiscal year.

No decisions have been made for the 2011 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The proposal will be presented next week to legislators. Legislative leaders are hoping for quick passage so lawmakers can focus on the 2011 budget.

The state is projected to have a $729.4 million revenue shortfall this fiscal year. Cuts already announced have reduced the projected deficit to about $530 million.

For the 2011 fiscal year, legislators are faced with developing a $5.3 billion budget, which is about 20 percent, or $1.3 billion less, than the budget approved last year.

The 2010 fiscal year budget of $7.2 billion was made up of about $6.6 billion in state revenue and about $630 million in federal stimulus funds.

Capitol Bureau Blog

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Governor wants increase in state's savings account

With Oklahoma in the midst of its worst budget crisis in modern history, Gov. Brad Henry again is pushing to increase the capacity of the state’s savings account.

The Democratic governor said Tuesday he will ask the Republican-led Legislature to expand the Rainy Day Fund, a proposal he suggested in 2006. Legislators showed little interest in the idea then because the state enjoyed a robust economy.

"You can never go wrong by depositing more money in your savings account,” Henry said.

The Oklahoma Constitution limits the fund to 10 percent of general revenue receipts.

Henry wants the cap raised to 15 percent. If legislators approve the idea, it would go to a vote of the people because it would be a constitutional amendment.

Henry said had legislators and lawmakers approved the measure in 2006 and the fund had been filled to capacity each year, the state would have almost $900 million in the Rainy Day Fund. Nearly $600 million is in the fund now.


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