Breakdown Of Oklahoma's Budget Problem

Wednesday, December 16th 2015, 7:06 pm
By: News 9

The Board of Equalization provides revenue estimates for the upcoming fiscal year, first, in December. The Governor uses this number to prepare her budget proposal. But it's the certified February revenue estimate that matters most, as the Legislature uses that number to actually write the budget.

That number tells us whether lawmakers will have more or less to spend than in the current year.

12/16/15 Related Story: State Leaders Preparing For More Budget Cuts In Oklahoma

A bar graph looks back over the last decade at the board's certified revenue estimates, and whether they represented a surplus or deficit, compared to total spending the year before.

What stands out are the three straight years of deficits during the recession, culminating with a 1.2 billion dollar shortfall in fiscal year 2011. But that was also when states were getting money from the federal Stimulus--remember that? So there was a cushion and the cuts weren't all that harsh.

And now, it looks like three more years of deficits, possibly hitting 900 million next fiscal year.

Finance Secretary Doerflinger is blaming this current crisis on depressed oil and gas prices.

So, News 9’s Alex Cameron charted the state's gross production tax revenues from oil and gas over the same ten years. They peaked in 2008, but have been pretty much declining ever since, even during some surplus years.

If these latest estimates hold, total spending for next year could potentially drop back to 2005-2006 levels.