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Oklahoma Budget Cuts

(AP)-  The budgets of state agencies that protect public water supplies, manage flood plains and protect Oklahomans from hazardous waste could be cut the most this year.

Governor Brad Henry is proposing that almost $2 million be cut from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality budget, a reduction of 20 percent.

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board could lose more than $1.1 million, a 25 percent reduction.

Henry warned that with a $600 million shortfall expected, budget reductions are inevitable.

DEQ Executive Director Steve Thompson says he was surprised by the size of the cut to his agency, but noted that the legislative session has just begun.

Water Resources Board Executive Director Duane Smith says his agency will work to be more efficient.

Environmental Secretary J.D. Strong says the budget cuts don't mean the environment has become a low priority for Henry.

Henry spokesman Paul Sund says the Office of State Finance generally recommends larger reductions for agencies that can raise their own funds with service fees. OWRB and DEQ are funded in part by fees.

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