Brad Henry’s Budget

This morning, the GOP chairmen of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, Senator Mike Johnson and Rep. Ken Miller, held a news conference to unveil Governor Henry’s proposed budget. Clearly, the governor’s eyes are bigger than his stomach, and his proposals don’t pass the Jenny Craig budgeting test.

Of particular note is his proposal to increase the pay of public employees, a proposal for which he received thunderous applause at the State of the State address on Monday. Note the duplicity of this proposal in the 4th bullet point below:

Governor Henry’s Unrealistic FY 2009 Budget

EXTENDING THE SCHOOL YEAR: The governor proposed extending the school year by 5 days in his State of the State of address, but he did not include the $90 million that Superintendent Sandy Garrett requested to extend the school year.

PERMANENT FUNDING SOURCE FOR EDGE: In his State of the State Gov. Henry referenced his proposal to use excess gross production revenues – which equals about $80 million a year – to provide a permanent funding source for EDGE. However, the governor did not set this revenue aside in his budget – he keeps it in certified revenues to fund government.

ENDOWED CHAIRS: The governor used his State of the State address to call for funding the backlog of endowed chairs in higher education. Yet the governor’s budget makes no mention of increasing bonding authority to pay for endowed chairs, nor does he include money to service the bonds for endowed chairs approved last session.

STATE EMPLOYEE PAY RAISE: The governor proposed a 5% pay raise for state employees in his State of the State. But his budget only sets aside $32 million for the pay raise – which would only fund half a year of his proposal, leaving a massive budget hole to fill next session.

In addition, the governor cuts the state employee health benefit allowance by $22 million, taking a significant bite out the proposed pay raise.

BORROWING: The governor proposed $188 million in bonds to pay for a wide number of projects. However, the governor did not include ANY funding to pay for the debt service on these bonds.

QUESTIONABLE REVENUES AND UNSPECIFIED SAVINGS: Republicans were glad the governor acknowledged in his budget that savings can be found through efficiencies and streamlining. We’ve been saying this for years. However, the governor listed tens of millions of dollars in “savings” from efficiencies and other “revenues” without giving any specifics:

ENTERPRISE AGENCIES: The governor’s budget claims that creating “Enterprise Agencies” would save $26 million. However, he does not show where the budget reductions would occur for his proposed Enterprise Agencies: DHS, ODOT, or Department of Mental Health.

GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY INITIATIVE: Gov. Henry’s budget claims this would save $33 million, including $7 million in reduced IT spending and $10.5 million from an overhaul of the Central Purchasing Act. However, the governor provides NO DETAILS about which agency budgets would be reduced to account for these efficiencies.

CASH TRANSFERS: The governor proposes transferring $17 million from agencies to the Special Cash Fund, but he didn’t specify which agencies.

TAX COMPLIANCE: Gov. Henry’s budget claims a Tax Compliance Initiative would generate $30 million in revenues, but he provided no data to substantiate this claim.

TAXPAYERS LEFT OUT: We were also disappointed that the governor left taxpayers out of his budget. House Republicans, Senate Republicans – and even Senate Democrats – have called for some form of tax cuts this year. Why does the governor’s budget ignore taxpayers?

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