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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says states should be partners in federal deficit reduction

In a speech in Washington, the governor said Congress and the president shouldn't treat states as underlings as they make cuts that will directly affect state budgets
by Chris Casteel Modified: January 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm •  Published: January 10, 2013

• Federal reforms should produce savings for both the federal government and states.

• Deficit reduction should not be accomplished simply by shifting costs to states or imposing unfunded mandates.

• States should be given increased flexibility to create efficiencies and achieve results.

• Congress should not demand the same level of service without providing the same level of funding.

“States need to be treated as partners, not underlings,” Fallin said, adding that shifting program costs to the states wouldn't be a sign of a good partnership.

State differences

Fallin and Markell focused mainly on broad areas of agreement. But some questions illustrated the marked differences between their states' politics.

“Each state is different,” Fallin said, in one way or another, several times on Wednesday.

On gun control, Markell said he was preparing legislation to address mental health services, school security and guns.

Fallin said Oklahoma officials had also addressed school security and mental health. “But I would also say in the state of Oklahoma — this is me speaking personally — that we certainly do respect our Second Amendment rights,” she said.

And on health care reform, Markell said his state had decided to expand its Medicaid program with federal money and to use a state-federal partnership to set up a health insurance exchange for residents to purchase coverage.

He said expanding the Medicaid program was not a partisan issue in Delaware but “an issue of math.” The state can provide coverage to many more people with a higher reimbursement rate from the federal government, Markell said.

Fallin has rejected the Medicaid expansion money, saying it would cost too much after the federal government reduced its share, and decided that the federal government must set up the health care exchange.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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