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State Legislature Convenes Today

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Oklahoma lawmakers convenes with plans to tackle the budget shortfall. Oklahoma lawmakers convenes with plans to tackle the budget shortfall.

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The 2009 Oklahoma Legislature has a new look, but is facing an old problem: balancing the budget after a downturn in oil and natural gas revenues.

For the first time, Republicans will be in the state Senate majority and will be dealing with a budget shortfall of up to $600 million. The GOP has controlled the state House since 2004.

Find out more information about the state Legislature.

The budget gap is tied to projected declines in oil and gas revenues and revenue lost after $2 billion in GOP-sponsored tax cuts the past two years.

The problem is similar, but far less severe, than revenue failures that struck the state in the 1980s after energy revenues tanked.

Gov. Brad Henry will present his budget ideas at a joint session of the House and Senate after the two legislative bodies convene at noon on Monday. Henry says agencies will face budget cuts.

Civil justice reform, expanding access to health care, prison crowding and economic development are among the top issues facing lawmakers.

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