Oklahoma is depositing $700 million into savings! Governor Kevin Stitt, Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall deserve applause for agreeing to put nearly half of this year’s budget surplus into savings. Last year’s historic savings account of $1 billion was tapped to survive the collapse in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, ultimately shrinking the account to $229 million. Rebuilding our state’s reserves is a great achievement and a fiscally sound decision!
The excess money for Fiscal Year 2022 looks to be about $1.8 billion. These dollars are one-time cash amounts that won’t be available next year due to three primary factors.
First, as the former Oklahoma Secretary of Budget, I worked expeditiously in 2020 with Governor Stitt and the Tax Commission to drastically lower the official revenue estimate for the first time in state history. The Legislature acted prudently to cut spending while we all held our breath to see the Federal response to the pandemic.
Second, hundreds of millions of dollars in tax payments were delayed and moved into this present fiscal year. Third, the federal government pumped $28 billion dollars into our economy. To put that into perspective, Oklahoma’s appropriated budget is only around $8 billion.
With their FY’22 budget proposal, State leaders have acted wisely and avoided the temptation to overspend as we all wait to see what our economy is really like post pandemic.