Statement by Gov-elect Brad Henry
"Given the declining revenue reports that Oklahoma has experienced in recent months, we knew that there were going to be difficult decisions ahead. I wish we were facing a brighter revenue outlook, but we are not and we will have to deal with the budget reality in front of us.
"As daunting as the latest budget numbers are, I sincerely believe that they present us not just with a challenge, but an opportunity as well. For better or worse, it will encourage state leaders to put the functions of government under a microscope and determine what works and what doesn't, what should be a priority and what shouldn't be. It won't be an easy or painless process, but in the long run, I think Oklahoma will be a better state because of the work that we do.
"During these efforts, my administration will be focused on protecting public education, health care and other important programs. Everyone will have to tighten their belts, but hopefully, by thoroughly examining agency spending, we can minimize the disruption to vital state services. If department heads can't justify each dollar that they spend, then maybe we can redirect that money to other priorities such as public school classrooms or health services for the elderly.
"I remain convinced that bipartisan cooperation is the key to addressing the state's budget challenges in a successful and timely manner. I look forward to working with legislative leaders of both parties to craft a solution to our revenue problems. If we put aside party labels and put Oklahoma first, I think we can accomplish great things, even in the current budget environment."