State lawmakers have found a unique way to eliminate the $1.3 billion budget shortfall for the 2010-11 budget. Following in the steps of Hollywood movie producers, Oklahoma state lawmakers have initiated contracts with nationally-known multi-national corporations for the naming rights of all state-own facilities and agencies.

After months of negotiation Gov. Brad Henry, who is in his final year in office, Senate President Pro Temp Glenn Coffee and House Speaker Chris Benge decided this new adventure could be the way of the future in government funding.

In exchange for naming rights each corporation will also be able to have their products prominently placed at whatever agency they are underwriting.

Legislators have contracted with drug maker Phizer to provide the lionshare of the Department of Public Safety’s FY 10-11 budget. As part of the agreement all Oklahoma Highway Patrol vehicles will display a Viagra banner, much like the NASCAR vehicle which Phizer currently sponsors.

In the first deal of its kind Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, known for C.S.I., C.S.I. Miami and C.S.I New York, has agreed to underwrite the budgets of the state’s Bureau of Investigation and Medical Examiner’s office.

The troubled Department of Human Services will now be known as DHS-Gerber with the baby food company providing nearly 60 percent of the agency’s necessary funds for the coming budget year. BabyFirstTV, who provides programming for babies and toddlers on cable, will be an associate sponsor. DHS caseworkers will have DVDs of the programs for distribution.

The state’s Department of Commerce will be linked with CNBC and state treasurer’s office will be sponsored by accounting and consulting giant Price Waterhouse.  No specifics have been released as to how Price Waterhouse or CNBC products will be displayed at the two agencies.

Hooked on Phonics will provide funding for the state’s education department.

A strategic agreement was struck with Cintas to provide uniforms for all security guards, state troopers, and department of corrections officers. All uniforms will display the Cintas logo. However, the state also has incorporated agreements with Coca Cola, Sonic, Ford, Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway and the William J. Clinton Foundation.  Each of those companies and organizations will have a patch on all state uniforms.

Final passage of the state’s FY 10-11 budget is expected in May. Lawmakers continue to negotiate agreements for other state agencies. Sources close to the negotiations have reported Oklahoma citizens may see a reduction in their taxes and possibly see refunds in the coming year as a result of the innovative funding measures.

With the current agreements, the state’s billion dollar budget gap will be eliminated and official will see a surplus if anyone can truly believe it.

Maybe state lawmakers will really explore such a plan on this April Fools Day.

Happy April Fools!

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