Dec 20 Oklahoma's budget deficit will be $868
million next year, higher than recent estimates as sustained low
oil prices, tax cuts and corporate tax credits continue to weigh
on the state's finances, the Oklahoman newspaper reported on
Governor Mary Fallin estimated just days ago that the state
would face a $600 million gap for the 2018 fiscal budget year,
but Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger told reporters at a
news conference on Tuesday that the hole will be deeper.
A $900 million budget shortfall would represent nearly 15
percent of its expected $6 billion in spending power.
With less money to spend, state lawmakers could choose to
make cuts to government services like education and health care
or raise taxes.
"I think it's important for everybody to realize you're not
cutting your way out of this situation," Doerflinger said. "We
have to have a serious conversation about revenue."
A representative for Doerflinger could not be reached for
The state's Board of Equalization, which is responsible for
tax administration, will meet Wednesday to provide lawmakers
with figures about how much the state will have to spend next
Like other states including Alaska and Louisiana that rely
on the oil and gas sector for employment and tax revenues,
Oklahoma is facing fiscal pressures that defy quick fixes.
In 2014, the collapse of oil prices contributed to a massive
$1.3 billion budget deficit, which led the state to declare
"revenue failure" in 2015, which triggered automatic across the
board spending cuts.
The Republican-controlled state legislature earlier this
year passed a series of Fallin-backed reforms to its bulging
prison system aimed at reducing costs but balked at her proposal
to approve a new tobacco tax and other revenue-raising
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in San Francisco; Editing by Lisa