Monday, December 21, 2020

Gov. Stitt, Speaker McCall comment on smaller projected budget deficit than expected


GOVERNOR STITT ISSUES STATEMENT ON OKLAHOMA STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION CERTIFICATION

OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 18, 2020)- Governor Kevin Stitt today issued the following statement after the Oklahoma State Board of Equalization certified an estimate indicating lawmakers will have $8.4 billion to build a budget for the 2022 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2021. 

“Over the course of this past fiscal year, Oklahoma’s state revenues have dropped due to the impact of the historic COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the substantial loss of oil and gas drilling activity," said Gov. Stitt. "However, Oklahoma was one of the first states to fully re-open its economy after the onset of the pandemic to allow Oklahomans to operate their businesses and safely return to work. Thanks to this decision, and the effective deployment of the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds to our citizens, businesses, cities and counties, the Fiscal Year 2021 predictions are coming in better than expected. By these projections, we now believe we will see less than half the revenue losses predicted in April. Moving forward, the Legislature will still have difficult decisions to make regarding the budget, but my team is committed to working alongside our legislators to ensure we remain fiscally responsible with Oklahomans’ hard earned tax dollars."  

During the meeting, Gov. Stitt gave attention to one-time cash sources of $1.03 billion as part of the spending authority estimate that will not be available in FY 2023 and does not bring the State back to its previously projected pre-pandemic levels. 

The Board of Equalization will return in February to certify a final estimate on how much revenue lawmakers will have to build a budget during the upcoming legislative session.


Speaker McCall comments on preliminary Board of Equalization projection

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, issued the following statement on the Board of Equalization's preliminary revenue projection for the Fiscal Year 2022 appropriated state budget:

“The projection is a big relief. The budget hole is far smaller than projected this spring because Governor Kevin Stitt and Republicans prioritized keeping the economy open for businesses and families. This approach created a very workable situation for the Legislature and governor to set a budget meeting the state’s needs.

Use of existing savings, spending less than authorized, and other responsible measures helped stabilize last year’s and this year’s budgets during the peaks of the pandemic. Those actions also gave state agencies a full 18 months to prepare for what we can now see will be very workable, smaller-than-expected reductions in next year’s budget.

Oklahoma has solved far bigger budgetary challenges before and will do so again. Governor Stitt’s leadership and smart legislative budgeting have positioned Oklahoma to have an adequate state budget as it continues fighting the pandemic while mourning those lost to it. Government must stay functional to protect the public, and this initial revenue projection indicates it can do so without major issue.”

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