Lawmakers Predict $600 Million Budget Shortfall

Sunday, January 18th 2009, 10:51 pm
By: News 9

By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma lawmakers say they're opposed to using the state's rainy day fund to make up for a $600 million budget shortfall.

"It will be very challenging. We will have to make some very difficult decisions," Governor Brad Henry said.

Those decisions include how to shore up what the governor believes could be a budget shortfall of $600 million. This potential shortfall is something neither Democrats, like State Treasurer Scott Meacham, nor Republicans believe calls for tapping into the state's rainy day fund.

"We're certainly not to a rainy day yet. I think maybe it's drizzling outside, but I don't think it's raining yet," Meacham said.

With all hands off the rainy day fund, Governor Henry said state agencies will be facing difficult cuts.

But Republican Representative Paul Wesselhoft, who supports Governor Henry for not wanting to use the rainy day fund, said he is wrong in his decision to consider across the board cuts.

"When you slash across the board, you don't have to make any important decisions, but when you surgically make cuts, you've got to interview those agencies to figure out where the fat is," Wesselhoft said.

While neither side would get specific about agencies that they would like to see cut, they did say areas that should be off limits include education and health care.