Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin tells Newsmax TV that the Sooner State could lose as much $137 million in federal funding next fiscal year should the nation plunge over the fiscal cliff.
“That could include cuts to education funding to the tune of around $50 million for Oklahoma, approximately $40 million in cuts to health and human services — and that’s just two of our main categories of spending in our state,” Fallin, who last year became the state’s first female governor, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “But, then, if you look at the direct and the indirect impact on employment and jobs in our economy, it could have a huge impact.
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“In fact, the White House itself has said that should the Bush tax cuts expire, Oklahomans will have $2.2 billion less to spend in Oklahoma’s economy, which could lead to a great decrease in our gross domestic product,” Fallin added. “Even in the jobs and the impact that’s projected, it’s been estimated we could lose around 8,000 defense-related jobs with sequestration.
“These are serious issues for our states — and I told the vice president just a little while ago that we’re getting ready to work on our budget. We already began the initial plans, but it is very hard to make spending decisions when there is so much up in the air in Washington, and certainly the uncertainty is not good for not only our state economy, but our national economy.”
Fallin, vice chairwoman of the National Governors Association, was among the group’s leadership that met with President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Tuesday at the White House to discuss issues relating to the fiscal cliff.
“As to whether we’re optimistic or not, we appreciate the president giving his time,” Fallin said of the session. “He certainly listened. He said he heard our concerns.”
The group also met with House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“He was a little bit less optimistic, to be honest with you, because there’s still some pretty tough negotiation on the philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats and the House and the Senate,” she said of the Reid meeting.
Fallin said she had not seen the details of Boehner’s plan, which includes $800 billion in new revenue via closing loopholes, but no tax increases. She understands the Ohio Republican’s thinking, though.
“When I was balancing our budget shortfall last year, one of the things we talked about was closing some of our loopholes and gaps on things that didn’t create economic growth in our Oklahoman economy.
“We have some tax incentives that we want to make sure actually generate revenue, generate jobs, help grow our economy — and so we have also looked at things like that. I appreciate where he’s coming from,” Fallin said.
“We don’t know the details on the loopholes, but there has to be, certainly, reductions in spending. There needs to be entitlement reform. We’ve yet to see the president come out with an entitlement-reform package on one of our biggest cost factors in our state — and that is Medicaid.
“The healthcare costs have been going up, but yet we’re seeing proposals for government programming, like with Obamacare, and more proposed tax increases. But, yet, we’re not seeing reform in the big costs to our states, which are entitlements.”
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