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Oklahoma's economy continues to do well, state treasurer says

Low natural gas prices still are a cause for concern, but overall Oklahoma's economy reflects health and resilience, he says.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: May 3, 2012
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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.