The 2009 state Legislature is facing a major problem this year. With an estimated $900 million revenue shortfall, many worthy bills will face an uphill battle to pass both the House and Senate and get signed into law.


The 2009 state Legislature is facing a major problem this year. With an estimated $900 million revenue shortfall, many worthy bills will face an uphill battle to pass both the House and Senate and get signed into law.


“The budget will overshadow everything,” Gov. Brad Henry predicted in January.


Henry said he is reluctant to tap into the state’s Rainy Day Fund this year despite the shortfall.

The federal stimulus plan could offer some budget relief, but it is unclear when those funds will arrive.


Area legislators explained Friday at the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Luncheon how the revenue decline is already affecting the legislative process.


Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield said legislation to create a four-year university in Ardmore is essentially dead for the year.


“The economy is not there,” he said

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Rep. Samson Buck said his bill to create monuments for deceased governors faces an uncertain future because of the revenue shortfall. And Rep. Pat Ownbey said his proposal to expand the items allowed under the Sales Tax Holiday is probably dead.


“I don’t expect it will stay alive because of money issues,” the lone Republican in the Ardmore area delegation said.


Ownbey said despite the constraints on spending, the shortfall may offer certain opportunities.
“We are going to examine how efficiently we are going to run on less money,” he said.


Crutchfield provided a lesson on the kind of consideration even the most seemingly innocuous piece of legislation deserves.


“You need to think beyond the easy, coffee-shop answers,” he said. “Look at the collateral effects of what you are doing.”


Otherwise, the deficit could grow a lot larger, he add.