An agreement on balancing Oklahoma’s remaining fiscal 2010 budget announced last week includes cuts for some state agencies, a drawdown of the budget stabilization fund, and an early use of federal stimulus dollars.
Gov. Brad Henry, House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, and Senate President pro tempore Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, said they hoped for quick approval of the budget proposal by lawmakers this week so work can begin on the fiscal 2011 budget.
Most state agencies will see their monthly appropriations go down by 10% through June. However, the agreement stipulates that supplemental appropriations will be made to public education, higher education, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, and the state prison system. The result would be lower appropriations for those departments and agencies, Henry said, but not to the 10% level.
“Given the magnitude of the crisis we face, there really were no good options available to us,” the governor said.
Some $223 million will be taken from the $600 million rainy-day fund, and the state will draw on $600 million in federal stimulus funds that had been reserved for fiscal 2011. Henry said failure to maintain state funding levels for education and health care could jeopardize up to $1.2 billion in stimulus funds.
The official forecast predicts $5.3 billion of revenue in fiscal 2011, some $1.3 billion less than in the original budget for fiscal 2010.
Henry said he would seek an increase in the budget stabilization fund to 15% of general fund revenue from the current constitutionally mandated level of 10%. Voters would have to approve a constitutional amendment raising the fund limit.