Time for Tough Decisions to be Made
The State revenue report is significantly below projections. There is no rational basis to see things changing in the foreseeable future. I remain committed to staying at the table with the Governor and working with him to see us through this crisis, but we are running out of options, said Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee. Clearly, hard decisions will be made, and serious steps will have to be taken in order to see this state and our people through this challenge.
At this point, it is fantasy to think we can proceed forward without a serious look at each agency, and making real cuts in spending, he continued. It would be irresponsible not to look at making additional reductions in expenditures at this point.
Coffee had previously asked Senator Mike Johnson, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, to have his subcommittee chairs call in their respective agency heads and identify areas that can be reduced. Coffee reiterated that call today.
Im an optimist by nature, but I am afraid the Governor is hoping for more than the data suggests, Coffee added.
Were still looking at an estimated general revenue fund shortfall that may approach a $1 billion for the year, so were kidding ourselves, and doing a disservice to the next governor and legislature as the state's current and future representatives - not to mention the taxpayers of Oklahoma - if we just drop a fiscal bomb on them, Coffee said. The Governor, the Speaker, Senator Johnson and I wont be here in 2011, but the legacy we leave the state will certainly follow us, and I refuse to leave a totally depleted state budget by avoiding the difficult decisions today.
Im afraid the Governor is still trying to paint a rosy picture and hope things will get better, said Senator Johnson. It appears to me the Governor doesnt care about future budgets following his two terms in office, Johnson continued. Relying on Rainy Day and stimulus funds would be the easy way out. But we cant and we wont avoid making the tough decisions now, or well dig an even deeper hole in the budget for our successors.
Blowing through $600 million in Rainy Da Funds would solve todays problem, but would leave the next governor that much deeper in the hole from the start, he added.
Were ready to sit down and work with him to make those tough calls, Johnson concluded.