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State long on needs, short on cash

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)  Oklahoma legislators who want to increase funding for schools, public safety and other state programs will find themselves short on money to do so as the 2014 session opens on Monday.

Budget projections show the Legislature already will have about $170 million less to spend on state programs in the next fiscal year, and that doesn't include plans to further cut the state's income tax and continue tax breaks for certain types of oil and gas drilling. Meanwhile, the list of state funding needs is long: child welfare, overcrowded prisons, underpaid teachers and state workers, and a crumbling state Capitol.

Gov. Mary Fallin will outline her proposal for a balanced budget on Monday that will include an income tax cut, although details haven't been released.

"I'm working toward a balance of how we reasonably lower our income tax, but yet also provide for our important services like education, corrections, public safety and those other needs," Fallin told reporters last week at a legislative forum hosted by The Associated Press. "You will see me propose some spending cuts in our budget, but that will all be discussed Monday."

The Oklahoma Legislature will convene at noon on Monday, and Fallin will deliver her State of the State speech to lawmakers at about 12:45 p.m.

The Lawton Constitution

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