"Today is not to look over our shoulder," Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said in her final state-of-the-state address.
“We have to be careful not to cut so much to the bone that we cut core services,” Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said.

DALLAS – Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is calling for the issuance of $500 million of bonds to finance road work as part of her plan to close a $1.3 billion budget gap while preserving essential services.

Relying on bonds to fund highways and bridges would free up revenue to prevent deeper cuts to education, Fallin said in a press conference April 13.

“The Legislature has to consider we have to be careful not to cut so much to the bone that we cut core services,” Fallin said.

While some lawmakers are expected to object to the bonding proposal, State Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger said lawmakers should consider whether they are prepared to take responsibility for drastic cuts during a revenue emergency.

“At some point you have to ask yourself, ‘Do you want to do bonding for these things or do you want deeper draconian cuts?'”

Fallin’s proposal would allow a 4.59% funding increase for the state Education Department, a 7% increase for the Health Care Authority, an 8.6% increase for the Human Services Department and a 7% increase for the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Department.

Higher education and most other agencies would suffer a 4.5% cut in funding.

The budget would avert mass closure of nursing homes, failure of rural hospitals, firing of more than a thousand teachers and imposition of a four-day school week in many school districts.

While some lawmakers are expected to object to the bonding proposal, State Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger said lawmakers must consider the alternative.

“At some point you have to ask yourself, ‘Do you want to do bonding for these things or do you want deeper draconian cuts?'”

Fallin’s plan also calls for about $240 million in changes to the tax system, including expanding the sales tax to cover advertising, sales of items to commercial airlines and tickets to NBA games.

One unusual tax feature would allow some residents to deduct their state income taxes twice. With the starting point for state income tax calculations usually the lower federal adjusted income that already takes the deduction into account, taxpayers in Oklahoma and six other states get the extra benefit of essentially deducting their state and local taxes twice, which is considered a double deduction.

The plan would also cut state funding to agencies that can support themselves, including the attorney general's office, the state treasurer and the Insurance Department.

Another $333 million would be saved through government accounting reforms, including putting certain agency savings into general funding, Fallin said.

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