Oklahoma’s Economic Outlook Brightens, State Agencies May Get Refund

Monday, July 10th 2017, 6:11 pm

State agencies could soon get some good news: they may be getting a refund.

Although State Treasurer Ken Miller didn't make that specific statement Monday, a rebate would be the likely result if Miller is correct in suggesting that the revenue failure that was declared back in February is not actually going to happen.

That was one of several pieces of good news the treasurer related Monday in presenting his monthly economic report at the Capitol.

June was the fifth month out of the last six, Miller reported, in which gross receipts were higher than the same month the year before. Gross receipts for June were $1 billion, an $87 million increase over June 2016. What's more, the report shows, all of the state's major revenue streams -- income, gross production, sales and motor vehicle taxes -- were higher than a year ago.

“Current data is encouraging with lagging economic indicators showing improvement in the state economy,” Miller said. “Leading indicators also point to continued growth, but the anticipated strength of the recovery has moderated in the past few months as oil prices have come down slightly.”

Still, the numbers show the oil and gas sector continues to rebound. Gross production taxes for June, $42 million, were higher than June 2016, the ninth consecutive month that has been the case.

Total collections for FY 2017 came in at $10.9 billion, down 1.5%, or $164 million, from FY 2016.

However, Miller said that's not as bad as had been projected back in February, prompting the Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger to declare a revenue failure. Based on Tax Commission estimates, Doerflinger felt total revenues for FY 2017 would fall outside the constitutionally required 5% budget cushion.

As a result, approximately $35 million in total state funding was held back from agencies that had been counting on that money.

Miller says he was skeptical at the time.

"Not being outside that 5% cushion then, there was some question whether or not that revenue failure would actually come to fruition," Miller stated. "It appears that it is not."

Miller says it will be up to Secretary Doerflinger to formally rescind the revenue failure. Assuming that happens, a spokesman in the treasurer's office says, agencies will get the funding that was initially withheld.


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