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Time running out to pass state budget

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The clock is ticking on lawmakers who are trying to fill a budget deficit before the session ends next week.

"Up until the last week and a half it’s been a do-nothing session," said a visibly frustrated Minority Leader Scott Inman (D-Del City). "We’ve got a $1.3 billion budget hole and only in the last seven or eight days have we seen legitimate budget bills put before the legislature."

Instead, Inman said, lawmakers and their constituents have been distracted by headline-grabbing bills on social issues.

The session ends May 27, but the deadline for passing revenue-generating legislation is May 23.

Earlier in the week, lawmakers sent a bill to the Governor that would make performing an abortion a felony.

Then, lawmakers proposed a bill that would grant children religious exemptions, so they wouldn't have to use the same bathroom as a transgender student. One state senator went as far as to propose a resolution calling for President Obama to be impeached.

"While it certainly has some resonance with folks back home because some people might be concerned with that, and we understand that, at the end of the day, it’s simply a diversion away from the $1.3 billion train wreck here at 23rd and Lincoln," Inman said. "We want to focus on the budget. We want to focus on the pain people are feeling."

House Republicans though are singing a different tune.

Speaker Jeff Hickman (R-Fairview) said the bills came from concerned constituents, taking pains to point out the Obama impeachment resolution was not part of the original bill.

He says budget talks have been productive and he doubts the legislature will require a special session beyond May 27.

Rep. Earl Sears (R-Bartlesville) expects a budget proposal to be made public by Monday.

He expects lawmakers will have to make between $175-225 million in cuts, but says his constituents will be satisfied with their decisions.

"Education, healthcare authority, other agencies again that we consider this caucus as core government will be held if not completely harmless, it will be extremely low," he said.