Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is urging state lawmakers to work together to find ways to fill the state’s nearly $900 million budget hole.
“This is a serious problem,” Fallin said addressing legislators and reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday.
“It requires leadership and courage to find solutions to the problems that we face in our state. And to not play partisan gridlock politics like we see in Washington, D.C.,” Fallin said.
Dozens of members of groups that could face budget cuts, like state park employees and educators, surrounded Fallin during her address Wednesday as a sign of support.
Fallin chastised lawmakers, reminding them there are only 12 days left during this legislative session where they can vote on revenue-raising measures for the budget.
Lawmakers have introduced several such measures into session during the past two weeks, including a bill that would raise taxes on cigarettes by $1.50 per pack.
But Democrats have vowed to block the cigarette tax increase unless there is also an increase to the oil and gas production tax.
State offices are preparing for ways the budget shortfall could affect their operations. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation responded to the uncertainty in the state budget by announcing the possible suspension of road and bridge construction on Monday.
Fallin said Wednesday she will veto a proposed budget if it does not fix the shortfall problem by providing significant sources of money for the state.
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