Over the past three weeks, we’ve seen a $0.43 increase in the price per gallon of gasoline in the area. But that won’t do much to help the state bridge an estimated $1.3 Billion budget deficit.
“Having a few more cents on the price of a gallon of gas has not changed a thing with the state budget picture,” said John Estus with the State Office of Management and Enterprise Services.
“Our problems that we have today are the same problems we had a few weeks ago, a few months ago. Just because you’re paying a few more pennies for a gallon at the pump does not mean your state budget has gotten any better.”
Rep. Earl Sears is the chair of the Appropriations and Budget Committee. He agrees the price at the pump will have little impact on the budget crisis.
“That doesn’t help us. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it’s up. And it does help our budget. But for what we’re dealing with right now, it doesn’t have the full impact that we would like.” Sears said.
The problem for the state budget isn’t so much the price of gas, it’s the thousands of energy sector jobs lost here in Oklahoma because of the low cost of oil. Today it’s still hovering at about $36 per barrel.
“Many energy companies will tell you the price per barrel has to be in the $50 or $60 range before they’ll begin bringing back some of the workers who have been laid off and before they’ll begin increasing production or drilling wells or doing the things that cause the Oklahoma economy to expand.” Estus said.