The state's total revenue collections resumed their upward swing last month despite lower than projected natural gas prices, state Treasurer Ken Miller said Wednesday
“Oklahoma's economy is reflecting health and resilience in spite of the low price environment for natural gas,” Miller said.
Total revenue collections, a reflection of the performance of the state's economy, came in during April at $1.16 billion, up by almost $83 million, or 7.7 percent, compared with the same month a year ago, he said.
All major sources of revenue saw growth over the previous year except for gross production taxes on oil and natural gas, which fell by more than 20 percent, he said.
Collections from gross production taxes on oil and natural gas were less than the same time a year ago for a fifth consecutive month, and for the sixth time in seven months, he said.
During that time the percentage of gross production taxes generated by natural gas production has steadily decreased as prices have fallen.
In October, 51 percent of gross production collections came from gas extraction; by March, the amount had fallen to 34 percent.
Collections are up
Miller said the state's overall economy is doing well.
Since hitting bottom in revenue collections from the recession in February 2010, 12-month collections between May 2011 and April have increased by almost $1.6 billion and are now only $336 million below the peak in December 2008.
Sales tax collections, including remittances on behalf of cities and counties, was $347.3 million in April.
That is $22.9 million, or 7.1 percent, more than the same month a year ago. Motor vehicle taxes produced $56.7 million, up by $6.9 million, or 13.8 percent, more than the previous year.
Gross production taxes on oil and natural gas generated $62 million in April, a decrease of $16.5 million, or 21.1 percent, compared with the same month a year ago.
Setting the budget
State budget officials used a price of $3.64 per 1,000 cubic feet in determining revenue expectations for the 2013 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Budget officials, who used a figure for $4.10 per 1,000 cubic feet for this fiscal year, originally had set a rate of $4 per 1,000 cubic feet for the next fiscal year but reduced it earlier this year. Natural gas prices have hovered around $2 per 1,000 cubic feet recently.
The gross production tax on natural gas is projected to bring in about $188 million, or 3 percent, of the $6.6 billion lawmakers will appropriate for the 2013 fiscal year.
Miller said natural gas prices, hurt by a large amount of supply caused partially by a mild winter across the country, may increase as utility companies switch from coal to natural gas to fuel power plants.
“If they continue to switch to the low-cost natural gas, that's got to be good for prices going forward,” he said.