Oklahoma has to explain where $16 million in stimulus funds went

The Office of State Finance has been working to find a way to account to the federal government how $16 million in stimulus funds were spent – a solution is still in the works more than a year after the funds were spent.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND mrolland@opubco.com Modified: December 28, 2010 at 8:32 am •  Published: December 28, 2010
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The Office of State Finance is trying to find where $16 million ultimately found a home.

The funds were part of $105 million in federal stimulus funding that Gov. Brad Henry had at his disposal for the 2010 fiscal year.

School districts received the money for fiscal year 2010 and spent it.

But what remains is a question of how to account for the state's use of the money.

The state must show by a September deadline how the funding was spent.

If the state misses the deadline, the money could have to be returned, possibly with financial penalties.

Making up for lost revenue

The $16 million was earmarked originally to fund a part of roughly $33 million promised to school districts for revenue lost to ad valorem tax breaks given to local businesses and industries.

“The state auditor raised some concern that that money could potentially end up in a bond sinking fund,” said Brandy Manek, budget director for the Office of State Finance.

Concern about the ad valorem reimbursement stemmed from a law that the federal funds couldn't be used to pay off state debt.

So, in the final days of the 2010 legislative session, Senate Bill 1566 was passed to take $16 million from the school districts' textbook fund to go into the ad valorem reimbursement fund that the stimulus money was originally going to make whole.

“The governor recalled the (stimulus) money,” Manek said, “and redesignated it for textbook reimbursements.”

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