Lawmakers have reached a budget agreement — that we know for sure. Whether it will stand up and pass the review of caucuses and votes will be the next chapter in the political thriller.
Who got what is another story. We are still waiting for details. There has been no formal announcement of an agreement, but lawmakers have quietly confirmed that negotiations between Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, Speaker of the House Chris Benge, R-Tulsa and Democrat Gov. Brad Henry have yielded some sort of accord.
Yesterday Senate Democrats voted against an emergency provision of a bill needed to start generating revenue. Some Senate Democrats say they won’t be changing their votes. Without the emergency there is less revenue, Republican leaders say.
The House and the Senate are both in recess for the lunch hour. Committee meetings this afternoon could include additional bills that begin to illustrate how lawmakers intend to fill a $1.2 billion budget hole. Suspending tax credits has been one measure. Legislative leaders have also talked about using a portion of the state’s Rainy Day Fund and left over federal stimulus dollars.
The numbers in the budget that may be released today will give agencies a road map of what cuts to prepare for. Most state agencies saw their budgets cut last year and have adjusted by furloughing staff members, cutting private contracts, offering early retirement and buyout plans. Agencies say more cuts could begin to impact their core services offered to the public.
More details will likely emerge this afternoon. Stay tuned.