Darrell Weaver recalls the last time the state struggled to make ends meet. Weaver, now the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs director, was working with agents who were trying to stop the drug trade here in 2003, when the state suffered a $700 million shortfall.
"It was just a very lean time. I remember there was a limit on everything,” Weaver said. "You never know. Did we lose ground to the drug dealers at that time? It’s hard to know. Maybe, maybe not. But now, just like many households, we’re going to have to adjust our budgets.” The Board of Equalization on Monday certified revenue projects for the next budget year that are 4.4 percent less than this year’s standstill budget. Figures show the state budget will shrink to $6.8 billion from $7.1 billion. Gov. Brad Henry said the state will continue to make education, human services and health care priorities with less funds available, but state agencies should be prepared to make "surgical” cuts.
What would be cut?Agencies are going to have to compete for funding as lawmakers set priorities. State agencies have requested about $1.6 billion, according to figures from the Office of State Finance. The agencies made requests in October, before revenue projections showed the state will see less money next fiscal year. Without additional money, some programs could go unfunded. One of those programs could be the Prescription Monitoring Program, which tracks people who fill prescriptions for regulated painkillers.