Statement: Even with healthy revenue growth, Oklahoma is a long way from recovery

Oklahoma Policy Institute released the following statement on the new revenue certifications projecting $612 million growth in what lawmakers may appropriate in next year’s budget:

The healthy revenue growth projected by Oklahoma officials gives lawmakers an opportunity to undo some of the damage caused by years of stagnant funding and shrinking services. As lawmakers develop next year’s budget, they must guard against repeating past mistakes. One year of a healthy economy and budget should not be used as rationale to advance permanent tax cuts or to roll back hard-won revenue increases. Instead, the fiscally responsible choice is to fund Oklahoma schools, health care, mental health and addiction treatment, and other services that are the bedrock of healthy communities, thriving families, and a strong economy.

Even with this revenue growth, Oklahoma is a long way from full recovery. This year’s budget is still nearly $800 million below the inflation-adjusted budget of a decade ago, and that’s before we account for the needs of a growing population. We remain last in our region in education funding, are among the lowest in the nation for mental health funding, and have nearly the highest rate of people without health insurance. In this context, the only responsible path for lawmakers is to focus on improving funding for our state’s greatest needs. The Oklahomans who worked so hard to advocate for better funding must stay vigilant that our lawmakers stick to that path in the year ahead.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gene Perry joined OK Policy in January 2011. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism. Gene also serves on the board of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network, is a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, and has chaired the communications advisory committee for the State Priorities Partnership, a nationwide network of state fiscal policy think tanks. He lives in Tulsa with his wife Kara Joy McKee, who is a Tulsa City Councilor.

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