Oklahoma on Track for $2B Budget Hole by 2030 (KWGS)

By Matt Trotter

You’ve heard this before, but it’s just as true today — Oklahoma is locked into a structural budget deficit. 

“Or, even simpler, we’re broke,” said Oklahoma Policy Institute Executive Director David Blatt at the group’s fourth annual budget summit in Oklahoma City. “The structural budget deficit was already almost $700 million in 2015. Based on current policies, that will climb to $2 billion by 2030, about 15 percent of revenues.”

Oklahoma Policy Institute has more than a dozen proposals to help the state get out of a budget spiral it’s been locked in since the Great Recession. They include avoiding new income tax cuts, reversing those already in effect and curbing tax breaks, especially for oil companies. Blatt has a proposal for the long term, too. 

“We need to revisit State Question 640. We need to be able to respond to budget circumstances with a majority of the legislature and not a supermajority three-quarters requirement,” Blatt said. 

Voters passed State Question 640 in 1992. It subjects tax increases to either a supermajority approval of the legislature or a majority vote of the people.

Despite a 2017 state budget essentially the same as 2007’s, there are some reasons for hope. 

After several shortfalls, tax incentives are being scrutinized and better revenue forecasts are in the works. Blatt said there’s also an understanding more income tax cuts are a bad idea, though an updated forecast next month could still trigger one with as little as $200 million in revenue growth.

“Even while revenues remain quite deflated. So we could have the trigger take effect and still be $400 million below where we were in 2015,” Blatt said.


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