Revenue collections for August came in below the prior year, and once again forced state officials to order a five-percent across-the-board cut to all state agencies.
“It’s actually a little worse than last month,” said State Treasurer Scott Meacham. “If things remain the way they are I think we may have to tap the Rainy Day Fund, but that’s not a decision we have to make today. Based on the timeline we’re on right now I think we can make it till the first of the regular session, and not have to convene a special session.”
However, OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley disagrees. “State agencies cannot be cut any more than they already are without it beginning to affect all Oklahomans,” he said. “This is a crucial time in our state’s history, and employees are overburdened trying to help customers in need. Our elected officials need to look at ways of reducing that burden, and tapping the Rainy Day Fund now, or using additional stimulus dollars could help ease the strain.”
OPEA is also calling for cuts to private contractors, an expense totaling 1.4 billion dollars a year.
“There is no reason state agencies should be forced to face these cuts alone,” Zearley said. “If agencies and state employees are hurting, then these private contractors also need to cut back on their expenditures.”
According to Meacham, agencies should expect to see additional cuts for much of the next fiscal year. “Unless there is a dramatic turnaround, which I don’t foresee, it’s very possible that five percent cuts will remain intact for state agencies through June, 2010.”