Every month, the news gets worse for state agencies, state employees, and Oklahoma residents who increasingly rely on state services after losing jobs and benefits.
Although national reports point to an improving economy, just try to convince Oklahoma lawmakers, and state workers who face furloughs and increased budgets cuts at least for the remainder of this fiscal year – and probably into the next one that begins July 1.
Last week, state officials ordered agencies to cut 10 percent from their budgets. Most agencies have had to reduce budgets 5 percent each month for the first half of the fiscal year.
On Monday, State Treasurer Scott Meacham announced Oklahoma will experience a revenue shortfall of more than $729 million for this fiscal year. He told the Associated Press state agencies will have to tighten their belts even further, or receive funds from the constitutional Rainy Day reserve fund or other sources. Meacham forecasts a revenue decline for the 2011 fiscal year of almost $967 million, or 17.6 percent, from the current fiscal year.
To make things even bleaker, a November state budget report issued by the National Conference of State Legislatures ranks Oklahoma worst in the nation in revenue shortfall, with collections down more than 25 percent from a year ago.
The report ranks Oklahoma’s shortfall at 18.5 percent for the current fiscal year, with the No. 2 state being Arizona, at 18 percent, followed by Illinois, with 16.5 percent. Nationwide, states have cut $145.9 billion from their budgets for the previous year.
Local agencies are struggling to provide services with less money. Cherokee County Department of Human Services Supervisor Steven Edwards says his office is receiving more new clients, including many who never have sought DHS help before. At the same time, he has fewer social workers and other staff members to serve the increased caseload.
Northeastern State University and Tahlequah Public Schools are getting by — at least for now — without noticeable cuts, but that could change as state revenue continues to fall, officials from both institutions said.
Inauguration day changed by 20th Amendment
Sometimes an amendment is added to the U.S. Constitution that is uncontroversial and virtually unlitigated.
Such is the 20th Amendment, which moved the seating of the new Congress and the presidential inauguration day to January, and enumerates procedure if a president-elect dies or cannot take office.
Because the “Lame-Duck Amendment” addresses procedure, it is long.
Fashion show to feature local teachers
A fun fashion event that will provide funds for one lucky area school is coming up next weekend.
Local teachers and students have until Tuesday, July 22, to sign up for the Teacher and Student Back 2 School Fashion Show at Arrowhead Mall in Muskogee.
TV’s ‘Mistresses’ has second local tie
Tahlequah has at least two ties to the TV drama “Mistresses.”
Local florist Josh Cottrell-Mannon designed the flower arrangements for the show’s season finale, and Arriane Alexander, daughter of local resident Sharilyn Young, is portraying a television news reporter.
Stark enjoys making a difference
Kristin Stark, Sequoyah Elementary Teacher of Year, loves teaching, and has a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children.
“I love making a difference in the lives of children; it is a wonderful feeling to make a positive impact on a child,” said Stark.
Women got the vote with 19th Amendment
During its first 140 years, the United States Constitution underwent a series of changes intended to extend voting rights to those who were not white or didn’t own property - but as the American experiment entered the 20th Century, half the adult population still had no protection to vote.
Though they certainly had political opinions, women could not cast a ballot in most states. That changed with passage of the 19th Amendment.
Cherokee, Tlingit storytellers to share their craft during special NSU event
Two Native American cultures will be represented during a storytelling workshop featuring Cherokee Gayle Ross and Tlingit and Cherokee dancer and storyteller Gene Tagaban, of Seattle.
Cherokees commemorate Act of Union
Cherokee Nation dignitaries met on the historic courthouse square Tuesday to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Act of Union following the end of the Trail of Tears Removal.
Firefighting fills a big role for Kimble
Community service is both work and volunteering for Cherokee County 911 Coordinator/Director Marty A. Kimble.
Kimble is also fire chief for Gideon Volunteer Fire and Rescue, president of the Grand View School Board, and northeast regional vice president of OklaNENA (National Emergency Number Association).
Fulk discovered art talent after retirement
It’s not unusual for retired folks to turn their hand to the arts. Count George Fulk among that number.
The former optometry professor at Northeastern State University and bird-watching enthusiast has found he also has a talent for watercolor painting.
OHCE members have ‘sew’ much fun
Sewing machines were buzzing and conversation was flowing at the Oklahoma Home and Community Education Woodall Club’s quarterly workshop last week.
The group assembled was working on placemat notebook organizers, made from regular table placemats.
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