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Another Year, Another Large Budget Deficit Facing Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

The state is facing a nearly $900-million budget shortfall. That's the word coming out of Wednesday morning's Board of Equalization meeting at the Capitol. The newest projections are what Gov. Mary Fallin will use to make her budget.

Fallin will present that budget to the legislature at the State of the State.

There wasn’t even room to get in the door of Wednesday’s meeting as the state finance secretary delivered the grim news of a pending $868-million budget hole. After the meeting State Treasurer Ken Miller had a blunt explanation of what has to be done.

“What we have to do is face the fact that, in Oklahoma right now, we have a revenue problem and we have to address that,” said Miller.

A point Fallin, who chairs the committee, agreed with.

“We have created more efficiencies. We’ve made some fine tuning of some agencies, but there’s a point that you reach that we do harm to the services that we provide to our citizens,” said Fallin.

Fallin says she will again ask the legislature to look at $8 billion in sales tax exemptions.

“We exempt a lot of things: car washes, tattoos, pet grooming, some sports tickets,” Fallin explained after the meeting.

In addition, Fallin says the state lost out on $300 million from online sales taxes and she will again press to raise the cigarette taxes. The Governor also has a panel looking into economic incentives.

“We need to continue to fine tune those to see that they are creating jobs, creating revenue within our economy. And those that aren’t, we need to get rid of them.”

The board also certified there wasn't enough revenue growth to trigger an income tax cut. The Governor also mentioned that those triggers should be changed so we aren't considering a tax cut during times like this.

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