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Oklahoma faces $167M budget shortfall next fiscal year

OKLAHOMA CITY - The 2019 fiscal year is facing a $167 million budget shortfall, officials confirm.

"[It's] still not where we want it to be, but we have had new revenue growth because of previous legislation that has been passed with those legacy wells, closing some of the exemptions on oil and gas companies or even a car sales tax," said Gov. Mary Fallin.

The State Board of Equalization authorized $7 billion for the Legislature to spend in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Shelly Paulk, Deputy Budget Director for OMES, said there were about $270 million in obligations for 2019 but only $104 million in projected revenue growth.

"Those are statutory or some way related to a federal loss of money or requirement that has to be met," Paulk said. "Last year, our shortfall was around 800 million. I believe the year before was about $1.3 billion, so we’re improving."

The estimated shortfall comes as lawmakers continue to work on the 2018 budget in the second special session.

"We attempted to do that by using the legislation that has been put forward to date, and so that was the way that we kind of amended what has been done," Paulk said. "So, if the Legislature passes what is outstanding, what is passed in the House and what is passed onto the Senate, then that is what we’re looking at."

While the latest projected shortfall is less than years' past, Fallin said it could mean a 2.5 percent cut to state agencies next year without new revenue.

"At this point in time, it doesn’t look hopeful after all the effort we had with the Step Up Coalition to be able to pass anything that’s a 76 vote," Fallin said.

On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Senate is expected to vote on a bill cutting agency budgets by about $45 million. If it passes, Fallin said she will sign it.

"I think it’s time to close out FY 2018’s budget. It’s still open. We’re well over the time period when that budget should have been closed out, and the fiscal year ended at the end of June," she said.