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Oklahoma treasurer offers positive economic outlook

Oklahoma's economy improved in 2013, and early economic signs for 2014 appear positive, as well, Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller said Monday.
by Randy Ellis Published: January 7, 2014

Oklahoma's economy improved moderately in 2013 and early economic signs for 2014 appear positive, as well, Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller said Monday.

Oklahoma gross revenue collections rose 3.2 percent in 2013, reaching a total of $11.446 billion, Miller said at a news conference.

He noted that state revenues had grown 9.6 percent in 2011 and 3.8 percent in 2012 as the nation emerged from a recession.

“The Oklahoma economy continues to advance but backed off the accelerator a little during 2013,” Miller said. “All major sources of revenue finished the year in growth territory, just not as robust as during the past few years.”

Looking forward to 2014, Miller expressed optimism — pointing to a huge 10.9-point December leap in the Oklahoma Business Conditions Index and modest improvements in state sales tax collections during the early Christmas shopping season as positive signs.

The Oklahoma Business Conditions Index jumped from 49.3 in November to 60.2 in December, indicating that Oklahoma's economy is likely to expand during at least the first half of 2014, he said. Numbers above 50 predict economic growth in coming months.

“Going from 49 to 60 is a big leap in one month, and I think encouraging for what lies ahead for Oklahoma's economy in the next year,” Miller said.

Meanwhile, state sales tax collections for the mid-November to mid-December early Christmas shopping season increased $3.5 million, or 1 percent, over the year before, reaching a total of $368.49 million.

The 2012 Christmas shopping season was “real good,” so even a modest 1 percent improvement should be considered positive, he said.

Miller pointed to the performance of Oklahoma's oil and gas industry as a bright spot in Oklahoma's economy.

Gross production taxes on oil and natural gas generated $69.84 million in December, an increase of $9.67 million, or 16.1 percent, from the previous December. For all of 2013, oil and natural gas production taxes generated $795.5 million, a $67.46 million, or 9.3 percent, increase over the previous year.

Gross production taxes and tax breaks granted to the oil and gas industry have been topics of debate within the state Capitol in recent months.

State Finance Director Preston Doerflinger said last July that the Legislature might want to revisit a 2010 oil and gas industry tax break because of the detrimental financial impact it was having on the state treasury.

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by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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