Concerns About Using Oklahoma's Rainy Day Fund

Monday, January 19th 2009, 7:54 am
By: News On 6

By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- The current state of the economy is doing what years of political debate hasn't been able to do in Oklahoma, bring the two sides together, for now.

State Democrats and Republicans are on the same side of the aisle when it comes to using the rainy day fund to make up Oklahoma's near half billion dollar short fall.

When it comes to next year's budget, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry isn't shy when addressing the problems facing the state.

"It will be very challenging. We will have to make some very difficult decisions," Governor Brad Henry said.

Those decisions include how to shore up what the Governor believes could be a budget shortfall of $600 million. This potential shortfall is something neither Democrats, like State Treasurer Scott Meacham, nor Republicans believe calls for tapping into the state's rainy day fund.

"We're certainly not to a rainy day yet. I think maybe it's drizzling outside, but I don't think it's raining yet," the State Treasurer said.

With all hands off the rainy day fund, Governor Henry said state agencies will be facing difficult cuts.

But Republican state Representative Paul Wesselhoft, who supports Governor Henry for not wanting to use the rainy day fund, said he is wrong in his decision to consider across the board cuts.

"When you slash across the board, you don't have to make any important decisions, but when you surgically make cuts, you've got to interview those agencies to figure out where the fat is," Rep. Wesselhoft said.

While neither side would get specific about agencies that they would like to see cut, they did say areas that should be off limits include education and health care.