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Oklahoma officials delay call on special session

Oklahoma officials delay call on special session
Aug., 21, 2009 Michael McNutt

Legislative leaders and the governor want to take a look at this month’s revenue collections before deciding whether lawmakers should meet in special session in September.

Gov. Brad Henry, House Speaker Chris Benge and Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee said in a joint statement Thursday they had made good progress in budget discussions, but they needed more information on the state’s revenue outlook before they could proceed.

"As our discussions progressed, it became clear we did not have sufficient revenue data in hand to make a good projection for the rest of the fiscal year,” Henry said. "We felt it was prudent to review the performance of August revenue collections before we make a new Fiscal Year 2010 estimate.”

Preliminary figures for August tax collections should be available late in the second week or early in the third week of September. Revenue reports should be released Sept. 15; that’s also when September allocations will be made to state agencies.

Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, said initial talks have been "very productive in identifying various fiscal actions to respond to a protracted revenue shortfall.”

Benge, R-Tulsa, said he is "extremely concerned” about revenue projections for this fiscal year, which started July 1.

"A lack of action could lead to bigger financial problems for the state down the road,” Benge said.Legislators in a special session could decide to use about $224 million of the Rainy Day Fund, the state’s savings account.

They also have about $600 million in federal stimulus money that had been set aside to help with next year’s budget.

Also, they could decide whether to require deeper cuts to budgets of state agencies.

The governor can call a special session, and legislators can call for one with a two-thirds vote.

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