The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

9 October 2002

The number crunch

Two hundred thirteen million dollars.

That's how much the state of Oklahoma is going to come up short in the FY 2003 budget. Absent some sort of divine intervention, or, say, Eddie Gaylord putting the whole deficit on his MasterCard, spending must be cut — the state Constitution prohibits going into the hole — and each department is expected to pull its own weight.

The Department of Corrections has a budget-cutting plan which involves furloughing (a state term meaning "involuntary unpaid vacation") its staffers for a total of twenty-three days between now and the 30th of June. Upset, a couple of hundred Corrections employees put in an appearance at the steps of the Capitol, hoping to draw attention to themselves and their plight. Corrections is, by some estimates, about 20 percent understaffed already, so the furloughs will exacerbate matters, but there simply isn't any extra money at the moment, the Legislature is not in session and will not likely be called into special session between now and Election Day, and revenue projections continue to decline.

What does the state plan to do? There's little or no support for raising taxes, and enacting new ones is even less likely. Maybe Oklahoma can start buying tickets in the Kansas lottery.

Posted at 7:26 AM to Soonerland

There are plenty of options left. They could introduce the 25-cent lottery ticket like Georgia did. Or they could simply increase the cigarette taxes by $5 per pack like New York.

However, they should follow the increase up with lowering the smoking age to 12, rather than instituting a blanket smoking ban like New York did. Duh!

Posted by: Ravenwood at 8:47 AM on 9 October 2002

Well, we don't have a lottery of our own, and it's unlikely they're going to start one just for this - lottery proponents, few and far between here in the Holy Land, insist that if it's ever a done deal, the proceeds will be earmarked for "education". We all know how well that works, but that's another issue.

In general, Sooners don't take kindly to tax increases of any sort, especially those that don't require a popular vote, but I suppose it could happen.

Posted by: CGHill at 10:28 AM on 9 October 2002