The halls of the Capitol are quiet on this Monday morning, and the parking lot is looking a little sparse as well.
After last week’s dismal revenue figures, many state agencies are looking for ways to cut their budget even further. In a story published today by Michael McNutt, state Treasurer Scott Meacham says the state could tap into its Rainy Day Fund if revenues continue to fall below projections in the upcoming months.
Some state agencies are already dealing with a 7 percent cut in their budgets for fiscal year 2010, which began July 1. Other agencies were able to use federal stimulus funds to offset cuts and keep vital services going. But if this trend of low performing revenues continues, officials might have to make some tough choices.
The state’s Rainy Day Fund has $600 million in it — the highest the fund has ever been. The last time the state used the Rainy Day Fund was in 2003. Money goes into the state’s Rainy Day Fund when the revenue collections for the fiscal year are 100 percent over estimates.
In an issue brief published in May by the Oklahoma Policy Institute, the group advocated the state tap the Rainy Day Fund before the agreement for this year’s budget was even completed. The brief argues that while the rest of the United States was dealing with the shock of the economic crisis a year ago, Oklahomans were still riding the wave of high oil prices. That’s tapered off and now we’re seeing the results of a delayed recession.
Meacham says money from the Rainy Day Fund could be used when cuts start impacting services and employees. After last month’s revenue figures, state agencies have been given a month to come up with additional ways to cut their budget. Meacham wants to see those reccomendations within the month.