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State Leaders Reach Agreement on Budget (May 10, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — State leaders reached an agreement on a $6.5 billion state budget for the upcoming fiscal year that uses a combination of agency budget cuts, money from a cash reserve fund and a transportation bond issue to plug a $500 million hole in the budget.

New Republican Gov. Mary Fallin and leaders in the GOP-controlled Legislature announced the deal Tuesday that will lead to cuts of about 4 percent for common education and 5 percent for the state's colleges and universities.

Cuts to health and human services agencies were limited to about 1.2 percent, while transportation will essentially be held harmless once a $70 million bond issue is approved to continue funding road and bridge projects.

Fallin says lawmakers agreed to pass several of her initiatives as part of the deal.

Reaction is coming in from other state officials on the budget. State Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi says while a 4.1 percent cut for education will be challenging, it’s less than cuts education faced earlier in the session.

She says she’s committed to ensuring that the impact of the reduction is minimized.

Many Democrats have a different take. Senate Democratic Leader Andrew Rice says Republicans are disingenuous when they say these deep cuts are unavoidable.

He says Republicans had a choice and they chose corporate special interests in the form of tax breaks, over middle class families.

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