Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Walters Agrees with McCorkell, Ponders Options

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Walters Agrees with McCorkell, Ponders Options

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Gov. David Walters agreed Wednesday with Rep. Don McCorkell, D-Tulsa, that loss of federal matching funds would severely cripple the Oklahoma Department of Human Services' budget and more.

In a telephone interview, however, Walters said he was mindful of state voters' rejection last fall of proposed health care provider taxes, when he recommended reducing the agency's budget by $87 million.

The governor also suggested he's considering tapping the Constitutional Reserve "Rainy Day" Fund for about $21 million for the agency, to ease the impact of budget cuts on nursing homes.

Walters was asked about a state Senate proposal to apply the $27.6 million balance in this year's cash-flow reserve fund to common education House Bill 1017 requirements for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The measure is awaiting House of Representatives consideration.

"I'm not yet sure. We have concerns about it and we want to be absolutely sure it's not fiscally irresponsible," he said. "It's somewhat of a complicated maneuver, so we're still looking at it very carefully."

Walters said he had not had a chance to see McCorkell's analysis on the economic impact of cutting the welfare budget.

Generally, though, "I think my guess is that the 9,000-job estimate is somewhat high," he said.

"I don't doubt, though, that if we pull $200 million or $300 million out of our economy by failing to match Medicaid dollars, and maybe other federal dollars within DHS, it would have an impact."

Walters said "essentially, Rep. McCorkell is correct. The problem is, what the public perceives of government and the jobs our federal spending creates, is perceived differently from privately created jobs."

Voters spoke clearly when they decided to turn away federal funds by defeating the health care provider tax proposal last year, he said. …

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