Oklahoma governor opposes steeper state agency cuts

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin invites legislators to come up with ideas besides additional cuts to make up the anticipated $500 million shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: March 26, 2011

Gov. Mary Fallin said Friday she opposes steeper funding cuts for state agencies and suggested legislators come up with alternative ways to deal with the significant budget hole in the upcoming fiscal year.

“If they have a different way of being able to fund the budget and make up for the $500 million budget shortfall, I invite them to bring those ideas forth,” Fallin said. “There's room for all kinds of ideas.

“I just encourage the Legislature to work on these budget issues early and not wait until the last week of session to tell what the funding levels are going to be,” she said.

Fallin proposed cuts in the 3 to 5 percent range for most state agencies in her budget she presented to lawmakers last month. She combined those cuts with suggested ways to streamline government services and funding ideas in her budget proposal.

Legislators didn't accept all of her ideas, and budget committee chairmen in the House and Senate said state agencies may have to deal with cuts ranging mostly from 3 to 7 percent, with some facing cuts as high as 10 percent.

Many agencies have had 15 percent budget cuts the past two years, with some having been slashed 20 percent during that time.

“The important thing is that we protect core services of the state,” Fallin said. Those are education, law enforcement, corrections, health and transportation, she said.

Legislators have about $6.2 billion to spend this year, or $500 million less than a year ago. Unlike last year, lawmakers have no savings or federal stimulus funds to use.

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