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When Oil Prices Plummeted, So Did Oklahoma's State Budget

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This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

Oklahoma's budget booms and busts with the energy sector. And with oil prices plummeting amid the coronavirus crisis, the state budget is in shambles.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt says he projects the budget shortfall next year will likely be more than $1 billion. He and his Republican colleagues in the state legislature fought over the budget for weeks during the early stages of the pandemic.

Then lawmakers decided to proceed on their own without the governor's input. The $7.7 billion budget they passed was vetoed by Stitt in May. "They can always override the veto ... that's fine," Stitt said at the time. "They'll have to answer to Oklahomans."

Lawmakers did override Stitt's veto mere hours after he sent it to them.

The budget they passed leans heavily on the state's rainy day fund and makes about 5% in cuts to every facet of government, compounding state budget problems of the past, including a drop in higher education funding that kicked Oklahoma universities' financial situation back to 20th century levels.

Robby Korth is an education reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma, a project of that state's NPR member stations .

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