State Now Has Budget Surplus Of More Than $100 Million

Monday, June 20th 2016, 5:05 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

For months, we've been talking about a state budget shortfall. Now, there are reports of a $100 million surplus.

Right now, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services says the surplus is at $166 million dollars for the fiscal year that ends in two weeks. Most estimate that number will drop by the end of the month but still could mean agencies would get some funding back. 

Northcare in Oklahoma City is one of 14 centers across that state which provides mental health, addiction and trauma services, but state budget cuts has caused them to turn people away.

“We can only serve those who are very seriously mentally ill or those really struggling with addiction,” Northcare COO Sarah Rahhal said. “We know with mental health treatment, the sooner you help somebody, the better,”    

But now it appears the cuts may have been too deep. In March, state agencies were forced to take a 4 percent spending cut, even though the Board of Equalization projected a 1.6 percent revenue shortfall.

OMES argues having a reduction that erred on the high end prevented additional midyear reductions.

"Making a perfect projection when revenues are as volatile as they are in a revenue failure environment is a difficult, if not impossible task. The best decision based on the information available at the time was made," State Finance Director Preston Doerflinger said in a statement.

But at Northcare, it means they turned away people and might not have had to.

“What happens when you turn people away? You see more people in the crisis centers or the hospitals or in our jails,” said Rahhal.  

Still, if the state ends the fiscal year with a surplus, funds could be returned to all agencies.

“Maybe we’ll get some more (funding) and we continue to be who we want to be for the community and serve everybody,” Rahhal said.

The state budget office says they will know mid-July if there is indeed a budget surplus and how much it will be. If there are additional funds, OMES can return them equally to all agencies or the governor can call a special session for the Legislature to allocate the funds.