Oklahoma State Budget

File photo

Facing a difficult economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the group representing Oklahoma’s city governments told state lawmakers during an interim study at the state capitol last week that they’re struggling with dozens of sales tax exemptions.

Mike Fina, executive director of the Oklahoma Municipal League, said those exemptions cost a total of $8.3 billion in sales tax funding. Fina said that not only constrains city budgets, but it also holds up policies many would like to see, like making groceries exempt from sales tax. 


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Collections to Oklahoma’s main government operating fund exceeded the estimate last month by about 1%, state finance officials reported Tuesday.

Office of Management and Enterprise Services Director Steven Harpe attributed the higher-than-expected collections to a couple of anomalies, including the timing of corporate income tax payments.

“These anomalies should not be expected to continue in other months, especially after federal assistance payments are fulfilled and deferred tax payments are received,” Harpe said.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Overall collections to the state’s main operating fund for fiscal year 2020 were more than 10% below projections as the state’s economy reeled from slumping energy prices and the economic impact of COVID-19, state finance officials reported on Thursday.

Total collections to the general revenue fund for the fiscal year that ended June 30 were $6.27 billion, which was 10.2% below the estimate, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services reported.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The State Board of Equalization on Monday gave one final confirmation of Oklahoma’s fiscal year 2021 budget amount.

Lawmakers officially had $6.65 billion to spend as general revenue estimates declined about $3.6 million and their appropriations authority fell $3.4 million in the board’s latest certification. John Gilbert with the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services said considering the economic circumstances, FY2021 general revenue projections are not far off from FY2020.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Late Wednesday afternoon, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed lawmakers' $7.7 billion budget in its entirety, along with bills temporarily reallocating nearly $300 million in apportioned dollars to public schools.

By 10 p.m., lawmakers voted to override Stitt's vetoes of all four bills.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Collections to Oklahoma’s main government operating fund missed projections by 44% last month, the biggest shortfall in modern history, state finance officials said.

Postponing the income tax deadline from April to July, plummeting energy prices and the coronavirus-related shutdown of businesses across the state amounted to a “threefold economic gut punch,” said Office of Management and Enterprise Services Director Steve Harpe.

“Missing this month’s estimate is not a surprise, but the magnitude is notable,” he said.

A bill setting spending limits for the Oklahoma State Department of Education on Monday cruised through a House committee but got a bit more scrutiny from the Senate counterpart.

Sen. J.J. Dossett (D-Owasso) took issue with House Bill 4153 carving out more than $3 million for specific companies providing online math tutoring and a mobile panic button, products schools in his district say they do not use.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said Monday he will veto budget bills taking dollars apportioned to the state’s teacher, law enforcement and firefighter pension systems next year.

House Bills 2741 and 2742 use the apportioned dollars to provide $112 million for public schools, a move that helps hold the State Department of Education's budget cut to 2.5% as other agencies take cuts of up to 4%.

Office of the State Treasurer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Revenue collections in Oklahoma fell by half a billion dollars in April from a year ago as an economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic swept the state, Treasurer Randy McDaniel said Thursday.

Gross receipts fell $502.5 million to just under $1.1 billion, down 31.8% from April 2019, McDaniel said.

Income tax collections fell by 50.5% to $405.8 million. McDaniel noted that the filing deadline for income taxes was postponed from April 15 until July 15 because of the pandemic.

Serge Melki

In lawmakers’ package of 12 budget bills is one that would require daily reports on Oklahoma’s spending of federal coronavirus relief funds.

House Appropriations and Budget Chair Kevin Wallace said Monday it appears the state has $800 million to spend once distributions are made to local governments from Oklahoma's roughly $1.2 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act allocation, and lawmakers want input.

Oklahoma House and Senate Republican leaders presented on Monday a $7.8 billion budget agreement.

Their spending plan is only about $400 million than the current fiscal year's after the State Board of Equalization estimated a $1.3 billion shortfall last month.

House Speaker Charles McCall said lawmakers turned to one-time spending, reserve funds and off-the-top dollars to close the gap, and they plan to cut most agency budgets 4%.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Federal relief aid and reopening Oklahoma businesses shuttered to slow down the spread of the coronavirus could potentially offset the steep economic impact of the pandemic, state lawmakers said.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission projected earlier this month that the state is slated to have $1.366 billion less to spend in fiscal 2021 than it had the previous year, based on analysis of current trends in revenue streams such as oil and gas production, tax collections and sales, and payroll tax receipts.

File Photo-OU

Oil Market Turmoil Likely To Have Economic Repercussions On Both State And Local Levels

Former Tulsa mayor Dewey F. Bartlett Jr. has seen a lot over his decades in the oil and gas industry, but he said he's never seen anything like this week's market turmoil, and never thought he would.

"Never," Bartlett said. "Not to this degree, and not this quickly. Not even close."

"It's as bad as it seems."

Serge Melki

The Oklahoma State Board of Equalization made official on Monday a $416.9 million revenue shortfall this fiscal year.

While oil prices plunged  into negative territory, that did not worsen the situation.

"We’ve already collected approximately 90% of those revenues with three months remaining, and only two of those months are going to be significantly impacted by this drastic change in pricing," said Oklahoma Tax Commission Executive Director Jay Doyle.

With prices already tanked, forecasters are now starting to estimate how much global oil demand will fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oil and Gas Journal Managing Editor of Economics Conglin Xu said it will likely be a steep drop.

"I expect that oil demand this year will decline 13% from last year to 87 million barrels per day. The size of the collapse is almost six times heavier than the collapse during the 2008 financial crisis period," Xu said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

In response to an order from the Oklahoma Supreme Court, a budget board led by Gov. Kevin Stitt will meet Monday afternoon.

House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat asked the high court to weigh in on the dispute between them and Stitt. The lawmakers want the court to order the Board of Equalization, chaired by Stitt, to meet and declare a revenue failure.

Chief Justice Noma Gurich also set oral arguments in the case for Tuesday before a Supreme Court referee.

As Oklahoma responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, residents and businesses across the state have been affected by executive orders from Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Attorney General Mike Hunter told lawmakers on Thursday that could create a lot of work for his office in the near future.

"We’re getting a lot of demand letters that we’re trying to handle in a diplomatic fashion, but our assessment is those demand letters are in the nature of laying the groundwork for future litigation," Hunter said.


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Revenue collections to Oklahoma’s main state operating fund were just 3.6% below projections last month, but state finance officials warned Tuesday that the biggest hit is expected over the next three months.

Collections to the General Revenue Fund in March totaled $494.6 million, which was 3.6% below the monthly estimate, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services reported.

Serge Melki

The state’s top lawmakers asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday to intervene in their budget dispute with Gov. Kevin Stitt.

House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat have filed a lawsuit to force the State Board of Equalization to declare a revenue failure.

Stitt chairs the board and abruptly canceled a scheduled meeting last week after lawmakers sent him three bills that closed a projected $416.8 million budget hole but blocked any dollars from going to his Digital Transformation Fund.

Oklahoma State Capitol

Oklahoma may use hundreds of millions of dollars from savings to deal with the impacts of an oil slump and the pandemic over this fiscal year and the next. While the state has reserves, the amount of the shortfall is unclear.

Josh Goodman, state economic development officer at the Pew Charitable Trusts, says states can get a better picture of potential problems by running budget stress tests, which banks started doing after the federal Dodd-Frank Act.

Oklahoma Governor's Office

Updated April 10, 7:23 a.m.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday signed two out of three bills lawmakers sent him this week to close a projected $416.8 million hole in the current fiscal year budget.

Stitt did not sign Senate Bill 199, which would have made $302.3 million in the state Rainy Day Fund available to spend.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

It remains to be seen what Gov. Kevin Stitt will do with bills to tap Oklahoma’s reserve funds and cover a projected $416.8 million budget gap this fiscal year.

Those bills keep state agency budgets from being slashed but block money from going to Stitt’s Digital Transformation Fund. One bill moves $302.3 million from the Rainy Day Fund to the general revenue fund for appropriation.

The other bills move $201.6 million from the Rainy Day Fund to the Revenue Stabilization Fund and authorize spending up to half the stabilization fund's balance.


Oklahoma leaders did not declare a revenue failure on Monday after suddenly postponing a special meeting of the State Board of Equalization.

That came after lawmakers advanced bills to tap state savings accounts for an amount that would cover the anticipated $416.8 million shortfall. House Appropriations Chair Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston) said their solution drew from the Rainy Day and Revenue Stabilization funds.

Gov. Kevin Stitt said Friday Oklahoma will be $416 million short this fiscal year between an ongoing oil slump and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Usually, a revenue failure would result in automatic cuts to state agencies. The governor's office said the one currently projected would result in agency budgets being slashed 6.2%.

Oklahoma Treasurer's Office

Gross receipts to the Oklahoma Treasury of just more than $1 billion in March were up $6.4 million over the prior year, but officials warn the future is dim.

"This month marks the end of almost three years of economic growth," State Treasurer Randy McDaniel said in a statement. "I expect to see a much different picture emerge in the coming months."

Gross production taxes on oil and natural gas totaled $78.9 million in March, a decrease of $17.3 million, or 18%, from last March. Compared to February reports, gross production collections are down $6 million, or 7%

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we're discussing court fees, court fines, collection costs, and other court-related expenses, which, all told, make up somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of the budget for the State of Oklahoma's court system. Therefore, and quite regrettably, our state's jails are by now brimming with people whose only "crime" is being unable to pay such costs.

In the immediate wake of Governor Stitt's State of the State Address, and as the 2019 legislative session gets underway in OKC, we welcome back to StudioTulsa our longtime colleague David Blatt, who's been the Executive Director of the non-partisan, non-profit OK Policy think tank since 2010. Blatt chats with us in detail about what lawmakers at the State Capitol might attempt or accomplish regarding education, criminal justice, health, economic opportunity, taxes, and the state's budget.

Recently, a University of Central Oklahoma professor drew much attention when he pointed out that our state could save $27 million in education spending if we consolidated our school districts. In a report called "Right-Sizing Oklahoma Districts: Examining District Size, Enrollment, and Superintendent Compensation in Oklahoma School Districts," Dr. James Machell points that the Sooner State has approximately 600 school districts -- yet in states with student populations similar to our own -- Louisiana, Alabama, and Kentucky, for example -- the average is about 200 districts.

The 2018 Session of the Oklahoma State Legislature recently adjourned, and what a session it was. For the first time since State Question 640 passed in 1992, the Legislature was able to raise revenues by green-lighting an increase in the Gross Production Tax rate as well as increases in fuel and cigarette taxes (with all of these increases passing the 75% threshold, as required by the State Constitution).

On this installment of StudioTulsa, with the Oklahoma State Legislature set to begin its new session on Monday of next week, we check in with David Blatt, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute. This non-profit public-policy think tank recently posted a detailed list of legislative priorities for the new year at its website. Blatt reviews several of these goals with us today: from Budget and Taxes to Economic Opportunity and Security, and from Education and Criminal Justice to Health Care.