OKLAHOMA CITY - The state of Oklahoma brought in an estimated $5 billion dollars in revenue during the 2017 fiscal year, state officials announced.
Oklahoma state-elected officials sat at Governor Mary Fallin's conference table Wednesday morning during a Board of Equalization meeting, as deputy budget director Shelly Paulk with the Office of Management and Enterprise Services ('OMES') presented statistics and estimates.
According to Paulk, the collected revenue for fiscal year 2017 was 3.4% below the initial estimate. This still put the state right within the 5% "cushion" in the budget.
However, the ongoing second special session positions the 2019 fiscal year estimates in an "unusual" spot.
"The shortfall or the budget gap would be the difference between the FY18 budget and an FY19 projection and we don’t have a finalized ’18 budget at this time to compare that to, so there’s no baseline for comparison," explained Paulk. "I have never seen that happen at this point, where we’re still in special session trying to finalize a previous year, so it is definitely a first for us."
Lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Monday for a second special session after Governor Mary Fallin vetoed 95% of a budget bill in November, tasking them with bridging the gap for the remaining $110 million of the unbalanced budget.
"We have balanced our budget by using one time funds, revolving funds, raiding various cash funds, rainy day funds to the point that we can’t do that any longer. It’s becoming a crisis in the state of Oklahoma," Governor Fallin said Wednesday.
The fiscal situation in Oklahoma, according to OMES, was summarized through a powerpoint:
- Market indicators do not suggest imminent recession
- Oklahoma is underperforming the national average for job growth but closing the gap
- Oklahoma economy is slowly recovering
- Dwindling tax base means Oklahoma cannot grow out of the state revenue crisis in the near future
Following the presentation, Governor Fallin spoke with members of the press and described recent meetings with legislative leaders. The meetings included state business leaders weighing in on possible revenue measures.
"I’ve been telling people this has been very hard when you have revenue shortfalls and you have fights over the state budgets, it’s hard on our state image," she said. "It’s hard on our brand. It’s not easy to recruit business when they read negative headlines."
Governor Fallin added while there appears to be signs of revenue growth for 2019, tough decisions still lie ahead.
"We need to be able to tell people we’re recruiting to Oklahoma and retain to Oklahoma that we have a good education system and that we do have good teachers in our classrooms and we have five day school weeks," she said. "I mean, that’s what the business community is telling me."
According to Fallin, lawmakers will break at the end of this week for the holiday and come back in January.
A full House vote is expected Friday on two appropriation bills which passed out of House and Senate budget committees on Tuesday.