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Officials: $34 million to be returned to Oklahoma state agencies

Oklahoma State Capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY – Nearly a month into the new fiscal year, state agencies in Oklahoma are getting a bit of good news.

After state leaders declared a revenue failure last fiscal year, budget cuts were implemented across all agencies.

Fortunately, officials say that some money is being returned to agencies.

In all, $34.6 million will be returned to agencies after general revenue allocations were cut in February.

“When the revenue failure declaration was made in February, it was based on expert tax projections, economic trends and numbers certified by the State Board of Equalization,” Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information Technology Preston L. Doerflinger said. “It would have been completely against precedent, totally irresponsible to Oklahoma taxpayers and counter to Constitutional intent not to make such a declaration.”

Also, $3.3 million that was cut from transportation funds will be returned as well.

“Today’s return of funds is a bit of good news at the end of a long and challenging fiscal year,” Doerflinger said. “The return will certainly help agencies out, but it doesn’t signal a recovery as the year-end total was still below the estimate. The last few years have been historically challenging budget times, and we still lack sufficient recurring revenue sources and are in need of structural budget reform.”

Following a nearly $900 million budget shortfall during the last fiscal year, state leaders were forced to borrow money from several funds in order to keep agencies afloat.

In all, about $327 million was borrowed from a variety of funds.

Although the funds have since been repaid, Doerflinger says more money will have to be borrowed this fiscal year.

“The lack of recurring revenue sources forced us to borrow from other funds this past fiscal year to keep state government operating,” Doerflinger said. “Borrowing will continue in FY 2018 as an over-reliance on one-time funding sources and an inability to pass significant structural budget reform with new recurring revenue sources promises to make the upcoming fiscal year another cash-flow challenge.”