Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Republicans Dispute McCorkell on Budget

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Republicans Dispute McCorkell on Budget

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter

The view of state Rep. Don McCorkell, D-Tulsa, that budget cuts should not include dollars that can be federally matched was disputed Monday by two House Republicans.

"To claim that we should not reduce the budget of any state agency which has a fiscal component subsidized by the federal government is not a prudent way to set policy," said Rep. Tony Caldwell, R-The Village. "Our job is to develop a balanced budget that meets the needs of all Oklahomans, not simply a budget that maximizes federal dollars."

McCorkell last week said if Oklahoma Department of Human Services programs were maintained at their current level for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1, it would take $86.8 million more than the agency was appropriated for the current fiscal year.

Medicaid costs are the primary factor of the increase, he said. The federal government matches every state Medicaid dollar with $2.33.

An Oklahoma Department of Commerce study requested by McCorkell showed that even if the massive welfare agency received an additional $86.8 million for a "standstill" situation, the state still would lose 4,500 jobs, mainly in the private sector. Some $83 million in wages also would be lost, the study said.

On the other hand, Gov. David Walters has proposed cutting the human services department budget by $87 million _ a move McCorkell claimed would have the effect of doubling the adverse impact depicted in the study.

In a news release, House Minority Leader Larry Ferguson, R-Cleveland, and Caldwell said it would be "ludicrous" to raise the agency budget before measures to lower expenses were fully explored.

"Hopefully, Rep. McCorkell is not serious about imposing massive cuts in other state agencies while sparing DHS from the budget knife," said Ferguson. Oklahomans want belt-tightening in all agencies, including the human services department, which operates on a combined $1. …

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