All things considered, Oklahoma's economy is doing quite well thank you. Our 4.9 percent unemployment rate is well below the national rate of 8.3 percent and, as state Finance Director Preston Doerflinger said last week, is “the envy of neighboring states.”
In addition, our sales tax revenues in August were up 12 percent over the same month in 2011, and in the past two months those collections have exceeded estimates by an average of about 5 percent.
But continuing low energy prices, particularly natural gas prices, continue to cloud the overall picture. Gross production tax revenue in August totaled roughly $154,000, compared with $36.1 million in August 2011. That's a decline of 99.6 percent, which helps explain why net income tax collections were down 11 percent from the same month last year.
This was just the third time since April 2010 that monthly general revenue fund collections came in below the prior year's collections and also failed to meet the estimates used by lawmakers to write the state budget.
State Treasurer Ken Miller, whose office tracks gross revenue collections, said consumer and business spending continue to be robust, “but weak gross production collections drag down an otherwise healthy report.”
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