Estimates project increase in Oklahoma's revenue

Lawmakers will have more state funds to appropriate next year, but they still face a shortage gap to make up for using one-time funds to develop this fiscal year's $6.4 billion budget.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: December 20, 2011
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Oklahoma will have a flat budget next year, despite state revenue collections being projected to come in about $400 million more than a year ago, state officials said Monday.

Lawmakers should have about $6.5 billion in state funds to appropriate for the upcoming 2013 fiscal year, which starts July 1, state Finance Director Preston Doerflinger said. A budget board made up of several statewide officials will approve that estimate during a meeting Tuesday.

“It's positive news that our economy has been showing growth,” said Gov. Mary Fallin, who serves as chairman of the state Board of Equalization. “The challenge that we're facing in the next budget year ... with the money that we received over the last couple of years from one-time funding from the stimulus, from the federal government, we still anticipate that we will have a relatively flat budget year in making up for the loss of one-time funds.”

The state's economic outlook is brighter than a year ago. Last year at this time, it was estimated lawmakers would have about $6.1 billion to appropriate and were facing a $500 million shortfall.

“More than anytime in history this is certainly Oklahoma's time to shine and it's a result of how we positioned ourselves financially,” Doerflinger said. “I'm very optimistic about the continued growth and how we emerge from the recession. It's much more positive than most other states who would love to be sitting where we're sitting at today.”

The budget estimate for next year is $114.6 million more than this fiscal year's final budget of $6.4 billion in state-appropriated money. But in crafting this year's budget, lawmakers and the governor used about $500 million in one-time funds that aren't available next year.

Based on this month's estimate on revenue projections for the 2013 fiscal year, lawmakers would have a budget shortfall of about $150 million. But with state collections to the state's general revenue fund coming in about 8.1 percent above estimates so far this fiscal year, much of that shortfall could be erased by February when the state Board of Equalization certifies the amount of money lawmakers can appropriate during next year's session.

“I certainly think February's numbers will be better,” Doerflinger said. “Ideally, it would be completely made up, but I'm not sure that that will be the case.”

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