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Facing $1.3B Deficit, Oklahoma Hit With Another Revenue Failure

Matt Trotter

Oklahoma's hole goes even deeper.

The State Board of Equalization Tuesday certified a $1.1 billion dollar budget hole and declared another revenue failure. Once one-time funds are factored in, Oklahoma's deficit for the next fiscal year will be $1.3 billion.

Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger told the board revenue collections are $260 million behind projections. Board member and State Auditor Gary Jones made Doerflinger's finding of a second fiscal year 2016 revenue failure official, and the board unanimously declared it.

Doerflinger wants the legislature to make this round of cuts.

"I can only cut across the board to agencies that receive general revenue funds," Doerflinger said. "The legislature could come back in and do more targeted funds and try to shield some areas."

Despite the deeper hole, Gov. Mary Fallin is not in favor of rolling back the income tax cut that went into effect Jan. 1.

"Letting people keep more of their money — it's only probably going to be about $100 million now, because people have lost jobs," Fallin said. "Out of the $1.3 billion budget shortfall, $100 million of that's not a big hit."

Since June, general revenue projections have fallen $549 million, or nearly 10 percent. Of that drop, $106 million has happened since December, alongside a 21 percent decline in oil prices.

State Treasurer Ken Miller said Oklahoma must continue diversifying its economy.

"But it's not going to replace the fact that we are an energy state and we are going to — to some degree — have to live with the ups and downs of the energy industry, because it is our anchor industry and very important to the state," Miller said.

The latest estimate says the state will have $4.8 billion to appropriate next year.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.