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Fallin Gives Wide-ranging State of the State Address (Feb 07, 2011)


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin outlined her agenda and goals for the state today during her state of the state address, and released her new budget proposal.

State Budget

Fallin says her agenda to create jobs and grow Oklahoma's economy is a forward thinking plan of action that lays the groundwork for generations of prosperity.

Fallin made the comments Monday during her State of the State address on the opening day of the Oklahoma Legislature.

Fallin says she wants to make state government more efficient and effective. She says she also wants to work towards a healthier, better-educated Oklahoma.

The governor says the first priority is to balance the state budget without raising taxes.

She said that can be done by prioritizing spending and enacting government reform. She said she's proposed cost-saving measures to eliminate wasteful spending. She says the state can't spend what it doesn't have.

Fallin released an executive budget proposal that calls for agency consolidations to cut costs and work through a $600 million budget shortfall.

Fallin released the budget proposal on Monday, the opening day of the 2011 Oklahoma Legislature.

The governor is asking every state agency to take a budget cut. Agencies that offer high-priority services such as public safety, education and health and human services will take significantly smaller cuts.

The budget calls for the consolidation of several agencies as well as modernization efforts to make agencies more efficient and effective. They include moving state agencies from paper to electronic billing and payments, moving universities from their own purchasing card systems to the state purchasing card system and consolidating technology resources.


Fallin says Oklahoma needs to improve its schools to better educate children.

She says lawmakers should restructure spending and educational programs in order to get more money into the classroom. She says that will require cutting down on overhead and educational bureaucracy by sharing administrative resources.

She also says officials need to find ways to encourage innovations. She says she's working with new Superintendent of Education Janet Barresi to find money for a new public-private partnership. She says the partnership will match private money with state dollars to fund innovative learning programs that increase student performance.

Health Care

The governor says she wants to increase access to affordable health care for Oklahomans. Studies rank Oklahoma 46th in the nation for the health of its citizens.

She calls the ranking unacceptable and says it leads to lost workforce productivity, hundreds of millions
of dollars in medical bills, and thousands of preventable deaths.

Fallin says she wants to increase access to affordable health care through free market initiatives and personal responsibility.

Fallin also said she supports efforts to overturn new federal health care legislation that requires citizens to purchase private health insurance.

State Pension System

Fallin told state lawmakers that Oklahoma's pension systems are unsustainable and have an unfunded liability of $16 billion dollars. She says the pension systems will run out of money if action isn't taken.

Fallin says public employees and legislators do not want Oklahoma to go down the same path as states that refused to fix their pension problems. She says she looks forward to working with both the House and the Senate to pass reforms that protect the solvency of the pension systems.

She says the state needs to keep its commitments to public employees without jeopardizing the state's future and the health of its economy.

Consolidation of Services

Fallin is proposing the consolidation of technology services and personnel across state agencies. Fallin also told state lawmakers she wants state agencies to use a uniform system for financial and administrative services.

She says the state doesn't need 76 different programs for financial bookkeeping and those changes will save $146 million each year.

She says she already has commitments from Secretary of State Glenn coffee and the departments of health, agriculture and commerce to move to such a system.

Fallin also wants citizens and government employees to help her find more places to save money and cut waste. Ideas can be offered on the website

Government Efficiency

Fallin says she wants state government to move from paper to electronic billing and payment services. She said the state currently pays $13.50 for every check it writes.

She says moving to paperless billing and payment will be faster, more efficient and save the state about $3.5 million a year.

Fallin says she also wants to make it easier to conduct business licensing in the state, and wants colleges and universities to move off of individual purchasing card systems and onto the state system, a move that she said will save $1.6 million annually.


Fallin says she supports implementation of the income tax cut trigger to lower the state's highest income tax rate from 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent.

She says implementing the trigger will lower taxes for Oklahoma families and businesses and make the state more competitive.

She says members of the House and Senate are conducting a study to investigate which tax credits are effective and create jobs, and which do not. She says she looks forward to the results of the study and believes that only tax credits that create jobs will stay.

Fallin also wants to restore the Aerospace Engineer Tax Credit, which she says brings high tech jobs to Oklahoma.

Lawsuit Reform

Fallin says she wants to sign a new lawsuit reform package into law that includes a hard cap of $250,000 for non-economic damages.

She says Oklahomans believe in justice, but not jackpot justice. She says excessive awards for non-economic damages hurt businesses, destroy jobs and give a bad name to a legal system whose professionals are, for the most part, dedicated to ensuring fair outcomes for all parties.

She also wants lawmakers to create what she called a governor's closing fund. She said when Oklahoma is competing with another state for a business, state officials could use the fund to bring the jobs and revenue here.

Workers Compensation

Fallin is calling for an overhaul of the state's workers compensation system in a way that she says will take care of injured workers in a more timely fashion, reduce fraud and waste and stop what she said are runaway costs that have spiraled upwards each year.

She says the current system is one of the most expensive and inefficient workers compensation systems in the nation and officials must focus on what workers can do, not what they can't.

She called for a bill to reduce legal and medical costs, get injured workers healthy and back to work and allow claims to be processed quickly and efficiently without unnecessary expenses to businesses.

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