State Spending and Services

State Spending and Services

The division of funds looks different depending on whether we examine all state spending, or just appropriations. This section looks first at the FY 2021 appropriations passed by the Legislature, and then at the total expenditures from the U.S. Bureau of the Census reflecting actual spending in FY 2016, the most recent data available.

Appropriations make up about one-third of total state spending.  Appropriations accounted for approximately 35 percent of all spending in FY 2016, the most recent year that total spending data are available, for the state of Oklahoma. This graph shows how state appropriations are divided among the major functions of government.

The major functions supported by state appropriations–from largest to smallest–are:

  • Education agencies received just over half of all appropriations, $3.9 billion in FY ‘21, including funding for local K-12 education, the state higher education system, vocational-technical education, and other cultural and educational activities.
  • Health and Social Services functions are the second largest use of appropriations; at $2.4 billion in FY ‘21, they receive just under one-third of appropriations. The health and social service agencies fund basic health and income security for those who are unable to be self-sufficient. Much of this funding matches federal grants for health insurance and for social service programs.
  • Public Safety received $845 million in FY ’21 appropriations. Funds are appropriated to operate the state’s prison system and law enforcement agencies that patrol highways, combat illegal drug use, and investigate and prosecute crimes.
  • Government Operations and Transportation agencies received $386 million in FY ’21 appropriations.  Government operations agencies provide oversight and support services for all state agencies.
  • Natural Resources and Regulatory Agencies received $125 million in appropriations in FY ’21 for a variety of purposes, mostly related to economic development, economic regulation and the environment.
  • The “Other” FY ’17 appropriations of $24 million went to the Rural Economic Action Program (REAP) to finance community development in rural areas and small towns, opioid abatement, and the multiple injury trust fund for injured workers.

The chart below shows how appropriations have changed over the years. Since 2009, health and social services have been the fastest growing area of appropriations, while natural resources and regulatory services appropriations have decreased, even before adjusting for inflation.


Health and social services, at $7.6 billion, makes up over one third of total state spending. In addition to their substantial appropriations of state funds, health and social service agencies spend more federal funds than any other agency type. The $4.7 billion spent on education makes it the second largest function in terms of overall state spending.

After health and social services and education, insurance trusts are the third largest function measured by total spending. The $2.8 billion spent by these agencies in 2016 represents 14 percent of all state spending. These agencies, mostly state retirement funds, receive no appropriations; their spending is supported by federal funds and contributions by those who benefit from their programs.

All other services use one-fourth of total state spending, or $5.1 billion in 2013. In addition to state appropriations, major funding for these functions-transportation, public safety, environment and housing, utilities and others-comes from federal highway funds and fees from users.

The next few pages describe the major appropriated and non-appropriated agencies that perform each major function of government.

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