State Agencies Facing Tough Cuts Again in 2011

Friday, January 14th 2011, 4:39 pm
By: News 9

Adrianna Iwasinski, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma state agencies are again facing the reality of more budget cuts in 2011.

State Senator David Myers, the new head of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said some state agencies are going to have to make cuts of up to 10 percent. The senator from Ponca City said just who will get the cuts will have to be decided.

"We will have to protect certain core agencies," said Myers. "But we have a significant hole in the budget and we've got to fill that hole some way. You either have to find revenue sources or make cuts. And I don't see us getting any major revenue in."

He said it is too early to know what the real numbers are since they have not been authorized yet. But Senator Myers said early projections calculate the budget gap as being between $500 and $600 million. That's 10 percent of the overall state budget.

Governor Mary Fallin will release the state budget on the first day of the legislative session set for the first Monday in February.

Budget performance reviews are currently taking place with all the state agencies. They are being asked how they would handle cuts of 5 percent, 7.5 percent and 10 percent.

Sen. Myers said some agencies may see more cuts than others. The state senator also said they will look at things like incentives, income tax and state fees for revenue, but said it will not be enough to make up for the budget shortfall.

"Even with these revenue enhancements and whatever else we can scrounge, up its going to be a painful process and the agencies are going to face some cuts," said the senator.

Lawmakers are already using $100 million in a cash reserve fund that came from rainy day fund as well as some money left over from the federal stimulus plan. But Myers said it nothing of the magnitude that would help fill the $600 million hole.

Senator Myers said it's going to be another tough year for the state and some state agencies will suffer more than others. But the good news is that legislators are seeing state revenues improve over where they were last year. It's just not improving as fast as they'd like.