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Budget & Tax

Curtis Shelton | February 25, 2019

Board authorizes a state budget of $8.25 billion

Curtis Shelton

The State Board of Equalization released its February revenue certification, officially authorizing the Legislature to appropriate $8.25 billion for fiscal year 2020. The Oklahoma Constitution’s balanced budget provision requires that the Legislature plan to spend no more than the Board of Equalization predicts it will receive in taxes and other revenues. This final figure is slightly less than the December 2019 estimate of $8.29 billion; however, this is still $575 million more than the current budget.

This additional money has, by and large, come from economic growth. Lawmakers must be diligent in using it wisely; simply dumping this money into the maw of bureaucracy would do little to help Oklahomans and could dampen the economic prosperity the state currently enjoys. While oil prices have rebounded in recent weeks, lawmakers would be wise not to rely too heavily on an industry dominated by foreign entities.

Lawmakers will be tasked with deciding what to do with this new money, and a few promising ideas have already been brought up. Spending money on the proposed Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT), with a mission to provide the Legislature more oversight of state agency spending, could wind up saving money in the long run. The governor has also proposed replenishing the Rainy Day Fund to help the state in the next economic downturn.

While having a surplus may be a more comfortable situation than in years past, it by no means lessens the importance of focusing on sound governance and effective policy decisions.

Curtis Shelton Policy Research Fellow

Curtis Shelton

Policy Research Fellow

Curtis Shelton currently serves as a policy research fellow for OCPA with a focus on fiscal policy. Curtis graduated Oklahoma State University in 2016 with a Bachelors of Arts in Finance. Previously, he served as a summer intern at OCPA and spent time as a staff accountant for Sutherland Global Services.

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