State agencies come up $25.3 million short for April


Sunday, April 14th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Finance officials have cut April allocations to Oklahoma state agencies by $25.3 million.

The State Finance Office said earlier this week that cuts would be deeper than expected because March revenue collections were much lower than they had hoped.

The agency had anticipated that allocations would be cut by 4 percent for April, May and June. Instead, the cuts were 6.64 percent.

The Department of Education's allocation for April was $130.2 million, or $8.6 million less than what was budgeted.

``We tried to protect the classrooms in all schools and asked superintendents to cut in the area of administration,'' said state Superintendent Sandy Garrett. She said, however, that some schools have reduced personnel as late as Tuesday night.

``We talk with superintendents continually, so they understand this is not a permanent cut, yet we are on the brink of some devastating news if we don't close the cash flow situation,'' Garrett said.

She said legislative leaders have agreed to hold education cuts to 1.6 percent for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.

The state's higher education system got $56.6 million, about $4 million less than budgeted. Maryanne Maletz, higher education vice chancellor for budget and finance, said some schools might have to reduce course offerings this summer and hire no additional full-time personnel.

``What has got us very nervous is that we expect a 10 percent enrollment increase this year,'' Maletz said.

April's allocation to the Department of Human Services takes a $2.2 million cut to $32.1 million. So far, the agency has avoided cutting welfare services.

``We will have to look at which programs we can trim,'' said DHS spokesman Dustin Pyeatt.

This month's general revenue allocation for the Department of Corrections is $30.1 million, a $2.1 million reduction. DOC spokesman Jerry Massie said the department already has a spending freeze.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority got $27.8 million for this month, a $1.9 million reduction from its budget.

Spokesman Nico Gomez said the Medicaid agency will seek another budget supplement for this fiscal year. The agency received a $15.6 million supplement earlier this year.