Oklahoma’s top finance official says state agencies should prepare for reduced or flat budgets in the next fiscal year.
“It will be tight,” Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger said describing the prospects for the 2015 fiscal year budget.
Early estimates show the Legislature will have about $6.9 billion to appropriate for the fiscal year that begins July 1. That's about $273 million, or 3.8 percent, less than lawmakers spent on the current fiscal year.
The news of the revenue decrease came on the eve of Thursday morning’s Board of Equalization meeting. That group, chaired by Gov. Mary Fallin, will consider certifying the amount of money she can use in building her executive budget.
Doerflinger said the governor will also ask the seven-member board to approve a motion adjusting the revenue estimates due to a recent state Supreme Court ruling that struck down a tax cut and $120 million set aside to repair the state Capitol building. That will improve the state’s bottom line. But Doerflinger says there is yet another danger lurking in Oklahoma’s fiscal waters.
“My call today is that we have a conversation and that we’re cautious as we continue to pass legislation that causes money to be apportioned prior to hitting the general revenue fund,” Doerflinger said.
He says more state money is earmarked for particular uses, reducing the flexibility of policymakers to set priorities, especially in times of tight state budgets. Doerflinger also says the current fiscal situation points out the need for bonds to help pay for projects in the state, including the repair of its Capitol building.
Doerflinger says Gov. Mary Fallin plans to make a motion to add about $103 million to next year's budget from a tax cut bill that was ruled unconstitutional.