Oklahoma's fiscal year 2022 budget seems a little less bleak in officials' first look at the numbers.
The Oklahoma State Board of Equalization’s earliest budget estimate certified $6.2 billion in revenue that can be appropriated next fiscal year.
That’s up 13% from final FY21 certified funds. For FY22, the total expenditure authority, including authorized and one-time funds, is nearly $8.5 billion, an 8% increase from the current fiscal year.
Office of Management and Enterprise Services budget analyst John Gilbert said that includes $200 million in the state’s cash flow reserve fund, partially resulting from an income tax deadline pushed back from April 15 to July 15 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"[Lawmakers] didn't appropriate that amount, so that amount is available for appropriation now or that will be cash in FY22 if everything comes in the way that we are currently projecting this December," Gilbert told board members.
Oklahoma Tax Commission Executive Director Jay Doyle told the equalization board the state’s economic picture is looking better than anticipated early in the pandemic, thanks to federal action like direct payments and payroll loans. Doyle said he also expects a 20% decline in oil production to reverse course.
"And we're expecting that to start to uptick on the production side in the second half of calendar year 2021, going into 2022, when we expect most of the nation to be innoculated with the [COVID] vaccine," Doyle said.
The current estimate is based on oil around $43 a barrel. Prices went negative in late April amid a supply glut but haven't dropped below $35 since May and closed at $49 on Friday.
"Moving forward, the legislature will still have difficult decisions to make regarding the budget, but my team is committed to working alongside our legislators to ensure we remain fiscally responsible with Oklahomans’ hard earned tax dollars," Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a statement.
In an analysis, Oklahoma Policy Institute noted the current budget estimate is 27% less than 20 years ago when adjusted for inflation and population growth.
"While the news from today's Board of Equalization was better than expected, our elected officials need to remain focused on long-term solutions that strengthen state revenue for the long run. These solutions include taking a hard look at ineffective tax breaks and economic incentives, among other solutions OK Policy has proposed," Executive Director Ahniwake Rose said in a statement.
The board will meet again in February.