State revenue figures released today show collections are off by 30.7 percent compared to the estimate. They’re 29.1 percent lower than last year’s collection.
Ask any educator or state employee, the budget cuts are being felt. Employees are seeing furlough days, private contracts cut — all in effort to make up the difference.
In his press conference this afternoon State Treasurer Scott Meacham sounded a little bit hopeful.
When asked if Oklahoma is still the “recession proof” state it was touted to be a few months back, he replied: “We’re not California.”
It’s true. We’re not. We’ve got some money stashed away in the Rainy Day Fund and stimulus dollars in place. The legislative session starts in February and agency heads were hoping that lawmakers would have an agreement on where the money should come from, “targeted cuts.” Meacham says negotiations on the budget continue.
In the midst of all that, the nation is gripped by a cold snap. For folks in Oklahoma, cold weather means dollar signs for the state government. People need oil or natural gas to heat their homes.
“I think I was the only person in this state who was glad to see the cold weather,” Meacham said.
But reaping the benefits of increased demand for oil or natural gas will be delayed, he said, as producers decide whether its a good time to get back into the business of drilling.
“The next six months will be better than the past six months,” Meacham said.
All options are on the table, but tax increases are still off-limits, he says.