Oklahoma budget shortfall estimate hits $900 million, February 11, 2009

Oklahoma's estimated $600 million budget hole deepened another $300 million Tuesday based on latest revenue estimates.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission approved an estimate that showed state revenues will be about $300 million less than the budget estimate made in December.

"There's obviously a tendency to look at that number and be a bit surprised and hope that it's not that big," said Reece Womack, the Tax Commission's economist who prepared the estimate. "Actually I'm the opposite - I hope it's that small.

"It's kind of ugly, and it may get uglier."

State Treasurer Scott Meacham, Gov. Brad Henry's top budget adviser, said legislators will have about $610 million less to spend for the 2010 fiscal year, which begins July 1, than they had for this fiscal year. A budget estimate in December showed state revenues would be off about $310 million.

More cuts for Henry

The $900 million budget hole is determined by including more than $180 million of one-time revenue sources and carryover money used last year to balance this fiscal year's $7.1 billion budget. Declining federal money coming into the state, mostly for Oklahoma's Medicaid program, also is contributing to the shortfall.

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