Gov. Henry delivers State of the State address - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Gov. Henry delivers State of the State address

Oklahoma City_Oklahoma state legislators face a budget shortage of almost $600 million started the 2009 session at the capitol on Monday.  Governor Brad Henry delivered his State of the State address Monday afternoon to open the session of the 52nd State Legislature.  He asked agencies and lawmakers to think about where they can make cuts.  "As Oklahoma families take a hard look at their own expenses, and cut where they can, we must do the same," he said.

This isn't the first - or worst - budget deficit Governor Henry has faced.  When he took office in 2003, there was a budget shortfall of almost $700 million, and a depleted Rainy Day Fund.  The emergency fund is currently full - with $600 million - and the legislators must determine whether to use any of it as an answer to the economic downturn. 

Members of the State House and Senate cheered the Governor.  Despite the daunting and undesirable task ahead of them, the cheering was a sign of bipartisan optimism.  "We've faced adversity many times, and, by pulling together, we've come through those adversities stronger and more united than before - and we'll do it again," said Henry.

Henry asked for precise, surgical cuts, without tapping into the Rainy Day Fund in the event the budget could grow worse in the future.  "Expect the unexpected," he said.  Today's showers could be tomorrow's tempest, and so we must resist the urge to raid the Rainy Day Fund." 

Those who share his views say the Rainy Day Fund should be used only for one-time emergencies, not ongoing situations.  "I'm hoping that we will protect the Rainy Day Fund, and make sure that we don't raid it for paying off programs that are continuous," said Representative Joe Dorman, (D) Rush Springs.  "We're going to have to go through the budget and make sure we do have a balanced budget, make sure that everything is funded adequately, and make the cuts where we need to."

Some Republicans say they expect cuts to be made in terms of employees, and the fund could solve the problem.  "We're going to try to work around it," said Representative Randy Bass, (D) Lawton.  "If you can get into a Rainy Day Fund to save jobs, that would be my answer, but I don't think they're going to get into it this year."

Whether the Rainy Day Fund is used or not, both parties agree that there isn't a short-term solution.  "I think it will be a multiple year process," said Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins (D).  "We're not going into this downturn because of things that have happened in just one year.  It's things that have built over a period of time, and mostly because of things that are happening around the country.  So, Oklahoma's still in pretty good shape."

In one of his anecdotal references, Henry spoke of a particular symbol of words in written Chinese.  The character for the word ‘crisis' is the same as used for the word ‘opportunity.'  Henry says this also is true for the challenges the legislature currently faces, as it presents an opportunity to improve government.

The state may get several hundred-million dollars of relief from the Federal Government through the stimulus bill being discussed in Washington, D.C.  Askins says that if the congressional package is approved by the end of February, Oklahoma legislators still will have three months in this session to work the additional funding into the state's budget.

Count on 7News to keep you updated.

  • Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • 'Quiet revolution' leads to abortion rights win in Ireland

    'Quiet revolution' leads to abortion rights win in Ireland

    Saturday, May 26 2018 2:43 AM EDT2018-05-26 06:43:19 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 7:35 PM EDT2018-05-26 23:35:04 GMT
    (Niall Carson/PA via AP). A man walks past a mural showing Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian dentist who had sought and been denied an abortion before she died after a miscarriage in a Galway hospital, with the word YES over it, in Dublin, Irel...(Niall Carson/PA via AP). A man walks past a mural showing Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian dentist who had sought and been denied an abortion before she died after a miscarriage in a Galway hospital, with the word YES over it, in Dublin, Irel...
    Official counting is set to begin in Ireland's historic abortion rights referendum, with two exit polls predicting an overwhelming victory for those seeking to end the country's strict ban.
    Official counting is set to begin in Ireland's historic abortion rights referendum, with two exit polls predicting an overwhelming victory for those seeking to end the country's strict ban.
  • Amid anti-immigrant sentiment, some Spanish speakers wary

    Amid anti-immigrant sentiment, some Spanish speakers wary

    Saturday, May 26 2018 2:14 PM EDT2018-05-26 18:14:01 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 7:34 PM EDT2018-05-26 23:34:39 GMT
    (AP Photo/Chris Carlson). Lilly Mucarsel, a native of Ecuador, poses for a picture in her office Friday, May 25, 2018, in Tustin, Calif. Mucarsel, 62, of Southern California finds herself reverting to English when she attends a baseball game or goes to...(AP Photo/Chris Carlson). Lilly Mucarsel, a native of Ecuador, poses for a picture in her office Friday, May 25, 2018, in Tustin, Calif. Mucarsel, 62, of Southern California finds herself reverting to English when she attends a baseball game or goes to...

    The Trump administration's harsh rhetoric and tougher policies toward immigrants have made some Spanish speakers self-conscious about speaking other languages in public.

    The Trump administration's harsh rhetoric and tougher policies toward immigrants have made some Spanish speakers self-conscious about speaking other languages in public.

  • More LGBT issues loom as justices near wedding cake decision

    More LGBT issues loom as justices near wedding cake decision

    Saturday, May 26 2018 9:33 AM EDT2018-05-26 13:33:35 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 7:34 PM EDT2018-05-26 23:34:09 GMT
    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File). FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2017, file photo, the Supreme Court in Washington is seen at sunset. A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through the courts and will continue, no matter the outcome in the...(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File). FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2017, file photo, the Supreme Court in Washington is seen at sunset. A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through the courts and will continue, no matter the outcome in the...

    A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through courts and that'll continue, no matter what the Supreme Court decides in the case of a baker who wouldn't create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

    A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through courts and that'll continue, no matter what the Supreme Court decides in the case of a baker who wouldn't create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Powered by Frankly