Oklahoma faces budget crisis despite economic boom

SEAN MURPHY Associated Press Published:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma's oil patch is booming, its capital city is thriving and the unemployment rate is falling, testifying to the state's roaring recovery from the recession.

But the legislature finds itself wrestling with a self-inflicted budget crisis that could force cuts to education, public safety and health care.

The problem is that lawmakers have created and expanded so many tax breaks and earmarked so much money for special projects that there's no longer enough for basic services.

So, while overall revenue collections are growing, the state has about $188 million less to spend next year on education, prisons or child welfare.

GOP leaders are continuing to push for more tax cuts, but some lawmakers say it's essential to consider the budget impact before approving new tax breaks.