State officials are expected Tuesday to approve projected figures that put the state's revenue failure for this fiscal year at $729.4 million.
Cuts in monthly state allocations to state agencies so far this fiscal year reduce the shortfall to about $450.7 million. But an estimated $80 million shortfall in the House Bill 1017 common education fund puts the actual budget hole at about $530 million, which legislators and the governor have to agree to make up in this fiscal year's budget, state Treasurer Scott Meacham said today.
About $278 million has been made up through across-the-board cuts to state agencies. Five percent cuts have been in place since August; the cuts were increased to 10 percent this month and next month. Plans are to return to 5 percent cuts in February through June, the end of the 2010 fiscal year, said Meacham, the governor's top budget adviser.
Early projections for the 2011 fiscal year are bleak, with legislators expected to have about $5.3 billion, or about 20 percent less, to spend in the upcoming session, according to estimates prepared by the state Tax Commission. The state Board of Equalization will consider approving those estimates Tuesday.
The 2011 fiscal year budget is projected at $5.3 billion, a decrease of about $1.3 billion.
This fiscal year's budget is about $7.2 billion, which is made up of about $6.6 billion in state revenue and about $630 million in federal stimulus funds.
"Obviously, the revenue projections are disappointing and signal some very difficult challenges ahead," Gov. Brad Henry, who also serves as chairman of the Board of Equalization, said today.
The state has about $600 million in remaining federal stimulus funds that could be used to help the state's budget either this fiscal year or next year. The state has nearly $600 million in its savings account, the Rainy Day Fund, which also is available.
Recent increases in energy prices give a slight ray of hope that revenues may be better than the Tax Commission estimates, Meacham said. But it's too early to tell whether a recent increase in the price of natural gas would continue, or for how long, he said.
It's expected the Board of Equalization will approve the figures released today. Henry will use those estimates to prepare his executive budget, which he will submit to legislators when they return Feb. 1 in regular session. The board will get new estimates in February, which will be the amount legislators will be allowed to spend in the session.
The prospects of a special session before legislators return appear dim.
Meacham said January collections typically are strong, and should, with the 10 percent cut, be sufficient to fund state agencies without tapping any other reserve funds.
Legislative leaders and the governor are working on an agreement to tackle this year's budget shortfall, Meacham said. It's hoped an agreement can be announced early next month, he said.