The clock is quickly running down to strike a budget deal and we are working toward finalizing an agreement. Any compromise in the coming days must still go through the necessary legislative steps before the budget can be sent to the governor for her final approval.

By law, the state Constitution requires the legislature to craft a balanced budget before adjourning Sine Die, even if it means having a special session in June. It’s time for both chambers and both sides of the aisle to come up with an agreement.

Talks are focused on a combination of minimal cuts to agencies, new revenues and budget reforms. The new revenues and budget reforms are aimed at addressing the structural deficits that have plagued the state budget for years. In a tough year, we are seeking a fiscally responsible plan that helps us pass a balanced budget and do our work on time without having to go to a special session.

On a different note, the annual Stilwell Strawberry Festival was held last week, and as one of the oldest and most popular community festivals in Oklahoma, the event attracts more than 30,000 visitors to the “Strawberry Capital of the World.”

Always held on the second Saturday in May, this year marked the 70th anniversary of the celebration in Adair County and once again, offered good hometown fun for a worthy cause.

The Strawberry Festival queens, past and present, joined by their attendants, are lovely young ladies who are active in their churches and communities. Miss Cheyenne McCrary was crowned the 2017 Strawberry Festival Queen, with Miss Hadley Hume and Miss Claudia Jones named first and second runner up, respectively.

I enjoy community events like this one, because it brings people together in a fun environment to reconnect with friends and neighbors.

Too often, we tend to focus on the negative and forget to find the fun in everyday life. I encourage you to seek the good in other people, in our communities and in the world around us.

I’d also like to extend my thanks to Zoey Daly from Grove recently served as a Senate page for our office. Zoey did an outstanding job while serving at the Capitol and we enjoyed hosting her. Senate pages work in the Senate chamber each day during session, as well as run errands for Senators and staff. They also participate in a mock legislative session called Pageville.

Senator Wayne Shaw (R-Grove) serves District 3 in the Oklahoma State Senate. He may be contacted at 405-521-5574 or shaw@oksenate.gov.