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State Legislators Request Hypothetical Budget Cuts From Agencies

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

Oklahoma lawmakers have sent letters to state agencies requesting they give hypothetical results for a more than 3 percent budget cut.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a $1.50 cigarette fee earlier this month after justices called it a tax, The Oklahoman reported. Legislative leaders are now inquiring how agencies would be affected by an across-the-board budget cut to make up for the lost fee.

The Department of Transportation is one of the largest agencies that could be affected by a potential budget cut.

Bobby Stem, executive director of the Oklahoma Association of General Contractors, said projects scheduled for 2018 would likely be delayed with a budget cut.

The letters sent Thursday and Monday also asked the agencies how a cut in state appropriations would affect federal matching dollars.

Lawmakers and Gov. Mary Fallin have discussed how they might solve the state’s latest budget crisis, which may lead to a special session. The special session would give lawmakers the opportunity to modify the state budget and spread the cut across other agencies.

“We were simply trying to make sure we had all the information we needed from our agencies,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Kim David, R-Porter. “Before we really go into negotiations for special session, we need to know what an across-the-board cut is.”

Other options include finding a new revenue source or waiting until the next regular session in February to adopt new legislation.

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