Reckless overspending by the state legislature has finally caught up with us. Today the budget is overdrawn by $1.3 billion dollars. One would assume the elected officials would do the prudent thing and reduce the budget by $1.3 billion dollars this year. But don't get your hopes up, because they are not going to do any such thing.Let's review how we got to this point. During the years 2005-2007, state spending increased 38%, which was almost four times faster than the private sector grew at 10%. Spending increases included new government programs, agencies, boards, and bond issues which created long term debt. All of this government growth coupled with the recession has saddled the taxpayers with a huge burden.

The reality is, state government in Oklahoma is too big and needs to be trimmed. While 36,000 jobs have fled the state of Oklahoma in the last 18 months, government jobs at the state and local level have increased by 8600. There are many worthy causes funded by the state that should be funded by the private sector and churches. A state budget should weigh the basic services and prioritizes against each other and then fund them adequately.

The budget problems didn't sneak up on us like the politicians would have you believe. The danger signs of a slowing economy and overspending have been flashing like a red light for the last several years. Yet, the state legislature has sped through red light after red light trying to catch up to the previous budgeting mistakes. Now we got caught, and must pay the ticket, and it is a whopping $1.3 billion dollars.

Governor Henry is already telegraphing his idea on how to address the budget shortfall, and it is a lousy idea. He is suggesting we potentially spend the entire $600 million dollar rainy day fund, plus another $600 million dollars of stimulus money. How convenient it is that those two add up to $1.2 billion dollars. Governor Henry's approach to address the shortfall only delays the inevitable of prioritizing the budget until he is leaves office, and leaves us holding the bag.

Spending the stimulus money will add another $600 million dollars of debt on our kids. Draining the emergency savings account and using it on budgeted items is penny wise and pound foolish. The Republicans who are in charge of the state legislature have a great opportunity to lead with conservative principles. They should not follow Governor Henry's lead and help him further destroy our economic future. As a serious conservative I believe the proper solution to the shortfall is to cut the budget by $1.3 billion dollars and live within our means.