McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

February 4, 2011

Fallin to propose cuts for all Okla. agencies

By SEAN MURPHY
Associated Press

McALESTER — MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (AP) — Gov. Mary Fallin said Friday a proposed state budget she will present to legislators next week will include budget cuts for every state agency.



Appearing before editors and publishers at the Oklahoma Press Association's annual meeting, the governor said her first fiscal plan includes 5 percent budget cuts for most agencies. Public safety, education and health care programs will face smaller cuts, she said.



Fallin took over as governor Jan. 10. At the time, budget officials were operating under the assumption 2011-12 revenues would fall about $290 million short of expectations, but within a week their estimate jumped to about $600 million — about 10 percent of current state expenditures.



While the expected 2011-12 shortfall exceeds the funding cuts coming in Fallin's budget, the governor told reporters that Oklahoma will save some money by consolidating state agency operations and services. She did not offer specifics.



"I promised the people of Oklahoma I would balance the budget without raising taxes," Fallin said. "If we don't have the money, we can't spend the money."



The governor said she would back a supplemental appropriation for prisons this fiscal year to help prevent furloughs that could undermine public safety by leaving fewer guards to tend a growing inmate population.



Two weeks ago, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee told agency heads to present plans on how they would reduce their budgets by up to 10 percent. Sen. David Myers, R-Ponca City, said some agencies were shaken by the magnitude, adding legislators and state departments face "painful" decisions ahead.



Throughout her campaign and since taking office, Fallin has said Oklahoma must solve its budget problems by growing its economy and that she will not work to stop an automatic $120 million tax cut that takes effect next Jan. 1. She did not talk about the automatic cut Friday.