OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) State budget negotiators report progress and the leaders of the Oklahoma House and Senate made plans for a face-to-face meeting, fueling speculation that a budget agreement may finally be near.
Republican House Speaker Todd Hiett and Democrat Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan plan to meet today, almost three weeks after the Oklahoma Legislature adjourned without a state budget and barely two weeks before state agencies will run out of money and be forced to shut down.
Governor Brad Henry has called a special session to finish the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1st, but legislative leaders have not set a date for lawmakers to return to the Capitol. It costs about $150,000 a week for the Legislature to convene.
Negotiations have stalled over Republican demands for the largest tax cut in state history and Democrat spending priorities. Talks collapsed last week over differences on spending plans for state colleges and universities and a proposed 5% state worker pay raise.