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Largest state budget since 2010 should benefit Oklahoma workers says policy group

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The state will likely have more money to spend than usual next fiscal year, and a think tank says it ought to go to working Oklahomans.

Emma Morris, an analyst for the Oklahoma Policy Institute, said at the group’s budget summit Thursday that Oklahoma’s Legislature will have the most amount of money to appropriate since 2010. The projection for fiscal year 2023, she said, is over $10 billion.

“We have the opportunity to take care of each other,” said Morris.

Morris said lawmakers should think ahead and not cut taxes since Oklahoma has a well-established boom and bust cycle.

“We’re on top right now, but valleys will return,” said Morris.

Morris said the state’s “grocery tax credit” should be looked at and updated. The credit was enacted in 1990 and hasn’t been increased even as prices climb.

“We all know a jug of milk costs a whole lot more than in 1990, but the credit to offset that price hasn’t caught up.”

Citing a similar tax credit for homeowners, Morris advocated for a renter’s tax break. She also mentioned updating the Earned Income Tax Credit, and cutting reliance on fines and fees that fund more than 80% of district courts.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.