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Governor, legislative leaders expect flat budget in 2022

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and legislative leaders said Monday that despite record-high revenue available to spend next year, they expect most state agency budgets to remain flat.

Budget projections presented to the State Board of Equalization, a state panel led by Stitt, show there will be more than $10.3 billion available to spend for the fiscal year that begins July 1. But Stitt and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Roger Thompson said after the meeting they want to keep at least $2 billion in reserves. The Legislature last year appropriated about $8.3 billion and set aside more than $700 million in savings.

“We’ll continue to invest where we can invest this year, but we’ll also be fiscally responsible to make sure we don’t put ourselves in a bad situation this time next year,” Stitt said.

Stitt’s office will use the estimates approved on Monday to build his executive budget recommendation that he will present to the Legislature at the start of the legislative session in February. Stitt said his budget proposal will emphasize funding for health care, education, infrastructure and attracting more businesses to the state.

The Board of Equalization will meet again in February to determine the final amount of revenue that will be available to spend on next year’s budget.

As part of last year’s budget agreement with the governor, the Legislature agreed to cut Oklahoma’s top individual income tax rate from 5% to 4.75%, which is expected to cost the state $170 million annually when fully implemented. They also slashed the corporate income tax rate from 6% to 4%, which is expected to cost about $110 million annually. Those new tax rates are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.