Legislative Update With Senator Bill Coleman, Ponca City
Beverly Cantrell - January 28, 2022 3:24 pm
Capitol Considerations by Sen. Bill Coleman
In a little over a week, another legislative session will get underway, starting with the governor’s State of the State Address on Monday, Feb. 7. I’m anxious to hear Governor Stitt’s policy ideas along with his budget proposal. As I mentioned before, we’re expecting another historic budget at more than $10.3 billion but won’t know the exact amount until later next month.
Oklahoma’s economy seems to be getting stronger every month. A good indicator of this are the monthly General Revenue Fund (GRF) reports. December collections were nearly 28%, or more than $168 million, above the monthly estimate and more than 32%, or nearly $189 million, above the December 2020 numbers. Total GRF for the first six months of the current fiscal year totaled $3.8 billion, which is more than 19%, or nearly $610 million, higher than the estimate, and over 12% above the 2020 collections for the same period. This is fantastic news.
One of the industries that experienced incredible growth last year was the travel and tourism industry. The state Tourism and Recreation Department released an economic report this month, showing that an estimated 17 million visitors came through the state in 2020, pumping an impressive $7.1 billion into our economy. Because of COVID, this was actually a drop of 17% in the number of tourists compared to 2019. Oklahoma is fortunate, however, as domestic travel dropped 34% for the nation overall.
Our Tourism Department has done an outstanding job in recent years as they’ve ramped up their marketing efforts to better show the world all the beauty, culture, and recreation our great state has to offer. Living here, it’s easy to forget all the unique places, events, and history we have to offer the world. Many may not realize this, but tourism is our third largest industry behind the oil and gas industry and aerospace and aviation industry.
This year, I’ve filed a bill that hopefully will help grow the state tourism industry even further by providing the agency additional revenue. In 1987, the Oklahoma Tourism Promotion Revolving Fund was created to provide an ongoing source of revenue specifically supporting tourism marketing efforts in the state. SB 1262 would modify the limit for the apportionment of sales tax revenue to the fund. The original bill capped the amount that could be deposited into this fund at only $5 million in any fiscal year. However, in order to continue growing their marketing efforts both in the state, nationwide and globally, the agency needs their funding to continually increase. My bill would increase the cap gradually each year until it maxes out at $7.5 million in Fiscal Year 2026.
In 2019, for every dollar invested in marketing, the state saw a return on investment of $6, so you can see how this additional investment will benefit the state and local economies greatly. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on this important measure.
Don’t forget to set your alarms for Monday, Feb. 7 at noon if you want to tune in for the Governor’s State of the State Address. He will be speaking from 12:30 to 1:30. He’ll go over some of the highlights and accomplishments of last session before moving into his ideas for new policies and reforms along with his proposed budget. We will listen and review his proposals as we move forward with the budgeting process. The Legislature will be presented with the final certification of revenues later in February and that is the amount we must adhere to for the FY’23 budget.
You can contact me by calling (405) 521-5581 or emailing [email protected]