Revenue is the money collected by governments. Government cannot provide the services we expect without money to pay employees and contractors, enter into contracts, build facilities and infrastructure, and make direct payments to people in need.
State and local governments rely on a wide range of revenues to finance services. When we think of government revenue we usually think of taxes, but they are far from the only important revenue. Services that benefit all citizens are financed at least partly from taxes. Most services, though, are funded at least in part through other revenue sources, including:
- federal funds,
- insurance trust revenues for retirement and insurance systems,
- fees or user charges, and
- utility charges.
Overall, state government collected $22.9 billion in 2016, while local governments collected $13.9 billion, including $524 in state and federal aid that the state passes on to local governments, mainly for education. It is important to note that state revenue was $3.4 billion lower in 2016 than 2013.
This chart shows the per person breakdown of different revenue sources to Oklahoma state and local governments. Our state receives $8,361 per person in revenue, which is 21 percent less than the national average. State and local governments bring in less revenue from taxes, user charges, insurance trusts and utilities than the national average, but more in intergovernmental transfers and other revenues.
Both levels of government rely on a broad range of different revenue sources, though local governments are more dependent on taxes, user charges, and utilities.
- Taxes are the largest source of revenue for state government and second for local governments. The state collected $8.5 billion in taxes and local governments raised $5.1 billion in 2016.
- Intergovernmental revenues are important to both levels of government, with the state receiving over $7 billion, and local governments about $4 billion in 2016. Intergovernmental revenues to the state come from the federal government, while local intergovernmental revenues include funding from both the state (about 90 percent) and federal government (about 10 percent).
- State government collected $2.8 billion and local governments $2.6 billion each in user charges-fees paid by people and businesses who benefit directly from a service-in 2016.
- Insurance trusts, which collect payments for unemployment insurance, workers compensation, and employee retirement systems, are an important revenue source for state government, which collected $1.3 billion for this purpose. Local retirement systems also collected $49 million in 2016.
- Utility revenues are charges to customers of water, electric, gas, and public transit systems. They are somewhat more important to local governments, which use these fees to pay all costs of the utility and often to help fund other public services. Oklahoma governments collected $1.9 billion from this source in 2016.
Other revenues include interest, sale of property, fines, and various licenses and permits. These generated $2.3 billion for the state government and about $800 million for local governments in 2016.
The chart below shows that Oklahoma state government revenue has varied considerably depending on the economy, policy choices regarding taxes, and federal support. Local government revenue has been more stable, but resources to support public services have not kept up with growth in population or the needs of Oklahomans.