Lawmakers Move Ahead on Gov. Stitt's Wish to Build Rainy Day Fund

Feb 19, 2020

Credit Ken Teegardin

The state legislature has taken the first step toward fulfilling Gov. Kevin Stitt’s request to raise the cap on deposits into Oklahoma’s rainy day fund.

The Rules Committee advanced a measure on Wednesday to double the cap on annual deposits from 15% of the prior year’s certified general revenue funds to 30%.

Sen. Joe Newhouse said having more in savings would have helped during the last downturn when talk of four-day school weeks and other cutbacks made potential new businesses nervous.

"So, I think having ample reserves helps us to calm nerves, helps stabilize our economy and helps us project a stronger image in solvency for our state," Newhouse said.

Sen. Roger Thompson said the state would still have to see a surplus to make any deposits.

"We’re not talking about new money that we’d be setting aside into savings. This would just simply raise the cap in case there happened to be over 100% money, which we’ve not had," Thompson said.

Newhouse took office during big economic downturns and said the goal is building $2 billion in savings.

"Many times, recessions don’t last just one year. Those can be two years, even more than that. So, again, having experienced $700 million to $900 million in the hole walking in, two years of that in a row," Newhouse said.

Senate Joint Resolution 30 is a constitutional amendment voters would have to approve.