State Capitol, Oklahoma City – State Sen. David Myers said many seniors and the needy will need additional assistance from the state to help pay for higher-than-normal heating bills this winter. Today, Myers suggested that a small, across-the-board reduction in state spending could be used to pay for heating assistance.“There is a clear need for more funding for heating assistance this winter for the needy and the elderly, but we also have to be concerned about a state budget that has skyrocketed by 11 percent to a record $6 billion this year. It would be fiscally irresponsible to add more spending to the ballooning state budget, so I propose that the Legislature enact a small, across-the-board reduction in spending so we can shift those funds to heating assistance,” stated Myers, R-Ponca City.
Myers said that reducing spending in the $6 billion state budget by just one-tenth of one-percent, for example, could provide $6 million in state money to supplement federal funds for LIHEAP, a federally funded heating assistance program for the poor administered by the state Department of Human Services.In another example, Myers noted that legislators could exempt $3.2 billion in education spending and $647.6 million in funding for public safety agencies from the across-the-board spending cut, reducing the rest of the state budget by just one-quarter of one-percent to net nearly $5.5 million for heating assistance.
" No reasonable person can claim that state agencies couldn’t absorb such a tiny spending cut to help keep seniors and the needy warm this winter. Reasonable people in the Legislature can work together to find a way to fund this priority without adding to this year’s massive state budget,” Myers stated.
SAMPLE ACROSS-THE-BOARD SPENDING CUTS
FY06 STATE APPROPRIATIONS = $6.06 billion
Spending cut of 0.1% = $6.06 million for heating assistance
FY06 STATE APPROPRIATIONS (NOT INCLUDING EDUCATION & PUBLIC SAFETY) = $2.18 billion
Spending cut of 0.25% = $5.45 million for heating assistance