A state panel has certified the Oklahoma Legislature will have $878 million less to spend on the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and that additional cuts must be ordered for the current year.
Collections to the state's general fund fell well short of projections. That means finance officials will order across-the-board cuts to all state agencies, including public schools.
The shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1 means the Legislature will have about 13 percent less to dole out to state agencies than they spent last year.
Oklahoma's Board of Equalization confirmed both shortfalls during its regular meeting Tuesday.
It's the third consecutive year with a budget shortfall and the second straight for a revenue failure. A revenue failure is declared when collections fall more than 5 percent below estimates.
House Speaker Charles A. McCall (R-Atoka) released the following statement today after the Oklahoma Board of Equalization (BOE) officially certified $4,925,502,659 in available revenues for the Legislature to appropriate for the Fiscal Year – 2018 state budget:
Today’s certification by the Board of Equalization hasn’t taken House Republicans by surprise. We have been preparing to deal with another budget gap since the end of the 2016 legislative session and started discussing possible solutions months ago. The revenue failure reflects an actual revenue shortfall of 0.7 percent of last year’s estimate and will require state agencies to adjust their current budgets accordingly. These situations evolve, and it would be unproductive to rush to conclusions. Last year, overly cautious cuts based on declarations of revenue failure resulted in $140.8 million in excess funds that were returned to our state agencies.
The current fiscal situation is challenging, but it is not insurmountable. Voters sent us here to solve these problems, and I truly believe we can find solutions to help us responsibly fill the budget gap and craft a budget that protects our most core services for 2018.