Local Government Services
Oklahomans depend on local government for a wide range of essential public services. Local government spending shapes our lives by providing education, public safety, infrastructure, and many other essential services. We use the majority of these services every day but rarely think about who is providing them or how they are financed.
Education spending of slightly over $5.8 billion represented nearly half of all local government spending in 2013. Five other functions all spent between $900 million and $1.6 billion, or between 7 and 11 percent each of total local spending. These are:
- Utilities (11 percent), including city and rural water systems and publicly-owned electric utilities;
- Public safety (10 percent), which includes city police departments, county sheriffs and jails, and city and rural fire departments;
- Health and social services (9 percent), mainly publicly-owned hospitals, but also county health departments;
- Environment and housing (9 percent), including sewerage, parks and recreation, community development and building regulation, and solid waste management; and
- Transportation (7 percent), about two-thirds of which is for local roads and streets and most of the rest for airports.
The 11 percent of local expenditures labeled “Other” includes interest on debt, administrative costs, retirement benefits, and relatively small services such as public events facilities and storm water management.
Since 2008, local government spending in Oklahoma has increased by about 10 percent, from $12.3 billion to $13.6 billion in 2013. Education now makes up a smaller share of total local spending compared to 2008 – 43 percent compared to 46 percent – while spending on utilities has jumped to 11 percent in 2013 from 8 percent in 2008.