Will State Budget Cuts Affect You?

Monday, February 2nd 2009, 10:45 pm
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, The News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- The governor on Monday announced his budget proposal for the next fiscal year.  Like most states, Oklahoma is faced with a shrinking pool of cash, and the Governor said there will be cuts.  The question is:  will the proposed cuts affect you?

"This fiscal year will be met with thrift and sacrifice," said Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry.

Under Governor Henry's budget proposal nearly every state agency will see cuts between 1% and 10%.  By tightening their belts, he wants to delete $102 million from next year's budget.  But, some agencies will see no cuts at all.

"Today I have placed before you a balanced budget that makes precise surgical cuts while protecting vital state functions such as education, health care, transportation and public safety," said Governor Brad Henry.

For example, all agencies will be asked to cut 10% of their travel budgets, except for law enforcement.  Something else that won't be cut, according to the state treasurer, is jobs.

"My agency took a 5% cut, we wouldn't be cutting any people, we'd be doing, finding ways to do things more efficiently," said Oklahoma Treasurer Scott Meachum.

So what if you don't work for a state agency? Will this proposed budget affect you? If you're a teacher or a business owner, the answer is likely yes.

Teachers will not get pay raises under the proposal.  But, state fees will go up.

If you pay for permits, licenses or other general fees under some state departments, you'll likely have to shell out more money.

For example, businesses currently pay a sales tax permit fee of $20 for three years. Under the new budget, the fee would go up to $50 for three years. That increase alone will add $1.1 million to the budget.

Cutting a lot of the little things, the governor is asking for bipartisan support.

"Trying times are temporary. But, the fruits of cooperation and consensus are are everlasting. If we work together Oklahoma will reach new heights," said Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry.

As far as the fee increases go, the governor says the state has not increased them since the 1980s and it's time they caught up with inflation rates.