Friday, May 13, 2011

Oklahoma House approves $6.5 billion state budget

The budget bill now goes to the Oklahoma Senate, which is expected to take up the measure early next week. The House of Representatives approved legislation Friday containing a key piece of the $6.5 billion budget agreement for the upcoming 2012 fiscal year.

The House, after discussing House Bill 2170 for about three hours, passed the measure by a vote of 61-36. Republicans, who outnumber Democrats 70-31, voted for it, while Democrats and a handful of Republicans voted against it.
The measure now goes to the Senate, which is expected to take up the bill early next week.
The House approved the budget deal, which was announced earlier this week by the governor and GOP legislative leaders, in a rare Friday session. The Senate also is meeting Friday to take up its redistricting plan and budget-related measures.
House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, said it's possible the House may be able to adjourn May 20, a week earlier than the last Friday in May deadline for legislators to wrap up their work.
The budget for the 2012 fiscal year includes cuts for agencies mostly ranging from less than 1 percent to 9 percent. Legislators face a $500 million shortfall in the 2012 fiscal year beginning July 1.
The $6.5 billion package is 3.2 percent less than this fiscal year's budget of $6.7 billion.
Legislators were authorized to spend $6.3 billion this session, but the agreement includes using about $200 million from various other sources. They include about $125 million in cash reserves, nearly $100 million in remaining federal stimulus funds and $20 million from various revolving fund accounts to increase the total to $6.5 billion.

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