STATEMENT: Revenue certification brings tidings of discomfort and woe

Oklahoma Policy Institute issued the following statement after the State Equalization Board certified $869 million less for next year’s budget than this year’s authorized budget:

As we enter the holiday season, Oklahomans today learned that the state faces a budget shortfall of over $850 million for the year ahead. The news of another massive shortfall is especially troubling to the tens of thousands of dedicated teachers and state employees who have already gone years without a raise; to children subject to larger class sizes and inexperienced teachers; to those on long waiting lists for critical mental health, substance abuse, and disability services; to health care and social service providers whose reimbursement rates have been repeatedly cut; and to all Oklahomans who have seen a steady decline in public services after years and years of budget cuts.

This year’s shortfall is the result not only of a struggling economy but of policy choices that have shrunk our revenue base and resorted to one-time revenues to plug budget holes. The result is a structural budget deficit that won’t be fixed just by a recovery in oil and gas prices.

This session, lawmakers will have to make the difficult decisions to boost recurring revenues in order to avoid devastating cuts and to address the teacher pay crisis and other urgent needs. All options should be on the table, including reversing some of the $1.5 billion in tax cuts that have been enacted in recent years, as well as closing tax loopholes, broadening the sales tax to more good and services, and raising certain excise taxes.

The one silver lining to today’s announcement is that another ill-timed tax cut is now unlikely to be triggered automatically next year. Already, overall state appropriations are 15 percent below where they were a decade ago when adjusted for inflation and will likely fall again next year. Knowing that it will take at least several years for revenues to recover to where they were before this latest economic downturn, lawmakers this session should cancel the next tax cut or ensure that it can only take effect once the budget has time to recover.

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Former Executive Director David Blatt joined OK Policy in 2008 and served as its Executive Director from 2010 to 2019. He previously served as Director of Public Policy for Community Action Project of Tulsa County and as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma State Senate. He has a Ph.D. in political science from Cornell University and a B.A. from the University of Alberta. David has been selected as Political Scientist of the Year by the Oklahoma Political Science Association, Local Social Justice Champion by the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice, and Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers.

2 thoughts on “STATEMENT: Revenue certification brings tidings of discomfort and woe

  1. The notion of increasing the burden on the less advantaged citizens by broadening the sales tax is repugnant when oil is taxed at such an obscenely low rate. Higher sales tax was decidedly defeated just last month.

  2. The tax cuts are obscene at such a time. If they are tax cuts on the rich they must STOP!!! Also increase taxation on fracking and oil drilling. Increase sales taxes on luxury items but not basic items. I know they don’t like the poor in Oklahoma but to further punish them by increasing sales taxes across the board…is unconscionable. And btw, if there was real public transportation in Oklahoma then the poor could get to work too and contribute to the economy. Some investments are worth it.

    Allow the poor to access Medicaid by tapping into the federal option. Of course when Trump takes over that may not be an option any more…but it HAS BEEN and HAS BEEN THWARTED. A healthy population whatever their economic status, will boost the economy. What caring thinking person does not know that?

    And finally, the workplace must be humanized. It is not humane now. People are actually punished for looking for work and trying to land jobs. When that is reversed more people will be working. I know this sounds nutso and retarded but I STAND BY MY WORDS. Ask me what I mean and I’ll tell you privately if you include your contact details.

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