Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The end of the downturn is not yet in sight

OKLAHOMA CITY – State revenue collections have fallen below prior year collections and the official estimate every month for the past year, and the end of the downturn is not yet in sight, State Treasurer Scott Meacham announced today.

December revenue collections are sufficient to fund allocations to state agencies for the month at the previously announced 10 percent reduction from appropriated levels.

“We were hopeful that revenues might begin to improve slightly; instead they continued their downward slide,” he said.

In August, State Finance Director Michael Clingman ordered monthly allocations to state agencies reduced by five percent. That reduced level of funding for state government continued through November. In December and this month, Clingman ordered the allocation cut doubled to 10 percent after Governor Henry and legislative leaders agreed to the increased reductions.

The 10-percent reduction amounts to a monthly cut of $42.9 million in budgetary allocations to state agencies.

No additional transfers from cash funds were needed to make allocations this month. However, a total of $233.8 million has already been utilized from those funds since the start of the fiscal year and will have to be repaid by June 30.

House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, comments on today’s release of the state’s December revenue collections:

"Discussions between the House, Senate and the governor’s office are ongoing as we work together to address the budget shortfall for the current fiscal year, all while being mindful of fiscal year 2011. We must continue to treat this as a two-year budget cycle as we try to balance the need for cuts with use of reserve and stimulus dollars."

“We hope our state’s economy rebounds soon, but slumping revenues are compounded by the fact that practically every policy discussion coming out of Washington will increase the cost of doing business, which does nothing to abate an overall lack of economic confidence.”

Senate President Pro-Tem Glenn Coffee Response to Latest State Revenue Report

"Once again actual revenue receipts have failed to meet projections. However, we continue in positive discussions with the governor's office and the House, and I am optimistic that a new budget framework can be announced by the beginning of the new legislative session in February.

"We know that many Oklahoma taxpayers are hurting because of the national recession, policies coming out of Washington, and the depressed job market. It is imperative that the new budget framework is fiscally responsible, and protects Oklahomans from tax increases."
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