The state's Office of Management and Enterprise Services recently released the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Oklahoma. According to the agency, where I previously worked as a budget analyst, the report is the primary means of detailing state government's financial activities.
The numbers in the report reveal that government spending is at an all-time high. In fiscal year 2001, total state expenditures were $9.65 billion and have grown to $16.70 billion for fical 2012 — an increase of more than 73 percent in just 11 years! Spending has grown every year since 2001 in spite of two recessions. Despite a net decrease of $564 million in federal grants, total state spending increased.
As agency and legislative records indicate, using total state expenditures is important because appropriations account for only 39 percent of state spending. Billions of dollars in nonappropriated taxes, fees, licenses, permits, state-matched federal funds and other nonappropriated revenues fund retirement systems, higher education scholarships, road and bridge repairs, Medicaid, health insurance premium assistance and many other programs.
Here are some highlights from the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report:
In a year when state personal income taxes were cut, state tax collections grew by $883 million from fiscal years 2011 to 2012. The state set a record for net sales tax collections and total tax collections.
Revenue from licenses, permits and fees totaled $597 million for the year and increased $194 million or 48.1 percent from 2011 to 2012.
Federal grants used by the state were $6.935 billion, equaling 40.2 percent of total revenues. This means that optional use of federal funds by the state exceeds total 2012 appropriations.
Total state spending on health services (mostly Medicaid) has grown from $3.14 billion in fiscal 2005 to $5.436 billion in 2012 — an increase of 72.9 percent. According to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, more than 1 million Oklahomans were enrolled in Medicaid in 2012 and approximately 393,100 in 2000. Medicaid covers 64 percent of the births in Oklahoma and covered 72.9 percent of Oklahoma's children younger than age 5 at some point in fiscal 2012. According to the authority, while the rate of federal reimbursements for Medicaid has declined six percentage points, all other revenue spent by Oklahoma on Medicaid has skyrocketed from $585 million in fiscal 2001 to over $1.8 billion (or 217 percent) in 2012!
The bait of “free” federal money has enticed state agencies to create and expand programs, which has significantly increased state spending to match federal money. Citizens and taxpayers should be encouraged that the governor's secretary of finance and revenue and chief budget negotiator, Preston Doerflinger, wants to see the state approach spending based on both performance- and priority-based budgeting. Equally encouraging, lawmakers are turning their attention to total state spending with the creation of House and Senate committees to review nonappropriated spending.
The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report shows there is much work left to do to focus government spending on core functions.
Small is fiscal policy director at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (www.ocpathink.org).