Funding Obligations Threaten Already Tapped State's Rainy Day Account

Tuesday, April 4th 2017, 5:57 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

Just last week, state lawmakers were surprised to find out the Rainy Day Fund is tapped.

Now, another surprise; that a secret deal cut last year will cost millions this year.  

“Ninety percent of the Senate learned that there had been a deal from last year to only fund part of DHS for 10 months,” said Sen. John Sparks, Minority Leader.

So now, they’re scrambling to find the cash to fund DHS for the last two months of the fiscal year. They’re doing that by borrowing more money from the now empty rainy day fund and the heavily tapped unclaimed property fund.

“It’s a secret deal that that pulls $4 million out of the Rainy Day account, which we know is zero, so we’re intentionally writing a check that’s going to overdraft the account, and then the rest of the money comes from the unclaimed property fund,” Sparks said.

State Treasurer Ken Miller said there is enough money in the unclaimed property fund to handle claims, but he said taking from the fund has got to stop.

“There has been a substantial amount of money in this fiscal year taken out. It’s close to $80 million in one fiscal year which is the most ever removed from that fund,” Miller said.

“We had to do what we had to do at a time when you have almost a 900-million dollar budget shortfall as we’ve seen our revenues drop with the energy downturn,” Gov. Mary Fallin said.

The governor admits this isn’t the best way to fund government. She said the legislature has to make real changes in the way the state generates revenue, even if that means raising taxes.

“But staying in the middle of the road you’re just going to get run over,” she said.