Budget & Tax

The Bogus Budget: Revolving funds and spinning politicians

May 10, 2017

Trent England

Maybe they’re called “revolving funds” because they help politicians to spin?

Earlier in this legislative session, Gov. Mary Fallin included the Department of Environmental Quality on a list of state agencies that have taken significant cuts to their appropriations. The last word is, as Shakespeare would say, the rub.

You see the DEQ spends more than its appropriation. In fact, it spends a lot more: the legislative appropriation is projected to be just 7% of DEQ’s total spending in the current year. The charts below show how misleading it can be when politicians talk about appropriations and ignore total spending. According to DEQ’s own reports to the State Senate, total agency spending is up even as appropriations have declined (here is the full Senate report).

Source: Oklahoma State Senate

Source: Oklahoma State Senate

Some of these funds are fungible and some are not. Some of what DEQ does is in response to federal mandates, which often include the strings attached to federal funding. Yet the point remains: Claims DEQ has taken a big budget hit based on decreased appropriations from the legislature are an attempt to get voters and even legislators to focus on a small part of the agency’s overall spending.

Read the other posts in our Bogus Budget blog series and keep an eye on the blog or our Facebook page for more.