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Oklahoma House Speaker studying energy stabilization fund

Oklahoma House Speaker studying energy stabilization fund

By The Associated Press

Published: January 4, 2010

With energy prices sagging, Oklahoma House Speaker Chris Benge said Monday he is studying the need for an energy stabilization fund to mitigate the financial fallout from volatile oil and natural gas prices.

The fund would capture excess revenue when prices are high and distribute it when they are low, thus providing a cushion to avoid massive budget cuts whenever prices fall, Benge said.

The state is facing a revenue shortfall of more than $729 million due to the sluggish economy and low energy prices. Officials ordered 5 percent across-the-board cuts to state agency budgets in August to cope with declining revenue and later extended the cuts through the end of the fiscal year June 30. The cuts were doubled to 10 percent for December and January as revenue continued its downward spiral.

"Oil and gas is very difficult to predict. There are so many factors that come into play," Benge, R-Tulsa, said during an interview with The Associated Press. "How do you take out some of the volatility in our energy collections?"... FULL ARTICLE

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