Republican leaders in the evenly divided State Senate said Gov. Brad Henry may need to increase taxes to pay for the new spending he is promising for the upcoming legislative session.
In December, Gov. Henry publicly cautioned state lawmakers about new spending in what could be a tight budget year. But in the past week, he has proposed about half-a-billion dollars in new spending – with even more new spending proposals likely to come in the days before the State of the State address scheduled for February 5.
“We’re becoming very concerned about the level of new spending the governor is proposing. He must be planning to use one-time revenues to pay ongoing expenditures or to raise taxes to pay for his program. Either way would be fiscally irresponsible,” stated Senate co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City.
“The governor spent virtually all the money last year and now energy revenues are declining this year. There probably is just not enough money available this year to meet our current obligations and fund all of his new spending proposals. Gov. Henry needs to show some fiscal responsibility,” stated Sen. Mike Johnson, R-Kingfisher, Senate Appropriations co-chair.
“We’re already starting to feel the adverse effects of spending money we didn’t have. Lottery shortfalls are cutting into other funds, and the other obligations from the past have already taken up most of our new funds available this year,” stated Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, co-chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.