Governor Henry Proposes Tightened Budget

Monday, February 2nd 2009, 7:13 pm
By: News 9

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Governor Henry released his proposed budget following Monday's State of the State Address.

Under the budget, state agencies will have $102.5 million dollars less to spend. Treasurer Meacham said the loss is not nearly as bad as what other states face in these tough economic times.

In front of a joint session of the House and Senate, Governor Brad Henry revealed challenges the state must deal with in the coming year.

"State agencies must tighten their budgets," Governor Henry said. "Some projects must be put on hold."

The Governor's budget proposal calls for a 10 percent cut in travel for all agencies, except law enforcement, which will save $9 million. Most agencies will also experience an overall cut between 1 percent and 10 percent, while some won't face any cuts.

"The budget protects key priority areas of government, education, health care, transportation and public safety while making sure we balance in the other areas," State Treasurer Scott Meacham said.

Under the proposal, Meacham does not anticipate layoffs of state workers.

"My agency took a five percent cut," Meacham said. "We wouldn't be cutting any people, we'd be doing, finding ways to do things more efficiently."

State Treasurer Meacham also does not expect state agencies to drastically cut services to the public.

He said teachers will not get a pay raise under the proposal.

Meacham also said Oklahoma's still doing far better than most other states dealing with the struggling economy.

"Compared to California, who can't even give people their tax refunds, we're doing a lot, a lot better," Meacham said.

The Governor also asked all agencies to cut energy expenses by 10 percent.

Education, Health Care, Safety and Human Services agencies will all experience an increase in their budgets under the Governor's plan.

The Governor's budget plan would make up for the $600 million revenue shortfall, including increased fees for permits or state services.