Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Governor Fallin, Legislative Leaders Announce Budget Deal

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Governor Mary Fallin, House Speaker Kris Steele and Senate Pro Tempore Brian Bingman today announced a budget agreement laying out a fiscally responsible plan to balance the state budget without raising taxes. Addressing a $500 million shortfall, today’s budget deal relies primarily on targeted budget cuts.

As part of the budget agreement, both the speaker and the pro tem have committed to passing key government modernization bills, including legislation to consolidate several state agencies under the Office of State Finance and legislation to consolidate the state’s Internet Technology services. Both items include projected savings and were included as part of Fallin’s legislative agenda.

Under the proposed FY 2012 budget, cuts to state agencies vary, generally ranging from 1 to 9 percent. Both the governor and legislative leaders made shielding core government functions a priority. For that reason, cuts to the Department of Education (4.1 percent), the Department of Public Safety (4.0 percent) and total spending for Health and Human Services (1.2 percent) are significantly less than cuts to other agencies. Transportation, also identified as a priority, is receiving a 7 percent cut, although the budget proposes a $70 million bond issue that will allow the department to complete its eight year work plan on time.

Governor Fallin said, “At the beginning of this legislative session, I asked lawmakers to send me a plan that accomplishes three things: balance the budget without raising taxes; prioritize spending to protect core government agencies like education, public safety, transportation, and health and human services; and pass  legislation that makes our state government smaller, smarter and more efficient.

“This budget accomplishes all of those goals. It makes tough, but realistic spending cuts while shielding government priorities from the highest reductions. Furthermore, I have received a commitment from our legislative leaders that important government modernization efforts will be passed and sent to my desk, so that we can keep our promise to voters to make government operate more effectively.”

Speaker Steele said, “We faced a challenging financial situation again this year, but I am pleased we were able to put our heads together and come up with a balanced budget that protects the core services our citizens expect,” said Steele. “Oklahomans will be pleased with the results this budget will produce."

Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman said, “This budget reflects our commitment to fiscal responsibility while preserving core services to the citizens of Oklahoma.  We are prioritizing our needs in the areas of public safety, education and transportation funding.  I want to thank Governor Fallin and Speaker Steele for their work in this effort, and my Appropriations Chair Senator David Myers for his hard work in leading the Senate budgeting process.”

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