Oklahoma State Senate Update With Senator Bill Coleman, Ponca City
Beverly Cantrell - December 30, 2021 9:27 pm
Senator Bill Coleman, District 10
Oklahoma State Senate, Preliminary Revenue Estimate-
The state Board of Equalization (BOE) met Monday and approved the preliminary estimate of available funding for Fiscal Year 2023, which begins July 1. It looks like we’ll be setting another state record with around $10.3 billion to appropriate during the 2022 session.
However, only about $9 billion of that is recurring revenue, while the remaining roughly $1.3 billion is one-time carryover funds from previous sessions. It’s imperative that we either save this one-time cash or spend it on non-recurring expenditures. You wouldn’t spend a one-time bonus check buying a car or home that would require reoccurring monthly payments. The state Legislature has to be just as responsible with one-time monies.
Gov. Stitt will use this initial revenue estimate to craft his proposed executive budget that we’ll hear on the first day of session on Monday, Feb. 7. He wants to put most of the surplus one-time money into state savings and said his budget will focus on health care, education, infrastructure and attracting more businesses to our state. He wants to make Oklahoma a “Top 10 place to do business.” These are merely his suggestions, and they help give us an idea of his preferences and priorities. However, the Legislature is the body constitutionally responsible for crafting and approving the annual state budget.
Our Senate Appropriations Chairman also wants to be cautious with the historic level of revenue because of surging inflation and the influx of $5 billion in federal funds coming into the state. Currently, he said he’d like to pause one year and pass a basically flat budget, meaning agencies would get the same or close to the same amount they received for the current fiscal year, to ensure our state’s economy is truly healthy and not being skewed by the one-time federal funds and other factors.
It’ll be interesting to see where our state and national economies are in a year. I’m especially concerned with the worker shortage and how national chains have gone from paying minimum wage to anywhere from $12-$18 per hour. While this is good for the workers, we have to look at the impact this change will have on the costs of goods and services. The largest national food chains, for example, can afford to pay their employees higher wages but if you think they’re not going to significantly raise the cost of their food, you are mistaken. The dollar menu will be a thing of the past and you’ll no longer be able to get a meal for a few bucks, but instead will pay the same amount as you previously were for nicer sit-down restaurants. Companies won’t let their profit margins suffer, but instead will just pass along their expenses to consumers. Another example is Dollar Tree, which has announced they’re going to start selling products for $1.25—a 20% increase.
Every financial action has a domino effect. Our national economy is in chaos right now, and we need to proceed cautiously to ensure we protect our state agencies, services, and employees as well as our business community and Oklahoma families. Fortunately, we had over $1 billion in our state savings account when COVID-19 hit. Otherwise, last year, we would have had to cut state agencies by $1 billion. We can only spend as much revenue as is coming in, and when we go in the hole, we have to make cuts to balance the budget. We’re not the federal government that can print more money or run a deficit. But, overall, our economy is strong, and revenues are good. We just need to proceed cautiously as we begin crafting the FY’23 budget.
I’d like to hear your thoughts and ideas on how we can utilize these historic funds and what agencies, services and programs need our attention most. Please contact me by calling (405) 521-5581 or emailing [email protected]