As Oklahoma City University economist Dr. Russell Evans looks at Oklahoma’s economy and how this year, the legislature is strapped with a financial crisis, he believes next year will be a far different story.
He predicts the economic recovery is already underway in the state, one led by the oil and gas industry improvements.
“The consistency of the energy sector recovery is spilling over to the economy at large,” said Dr. Evans in a presentation to the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.
Evans is executive director of the Steven C. Agee Economic Research and Policy Institute at Oklahoma City University.
“The reason I’m optimistic—-is if we don’t do something to challenge the recovery, because the recovery is on pace to occur,” he added in an interview with OK Energy Today. “Right now in Oklahoma, both the oil and gas economy and the U.S. economy are net positive for us. And as long as it stays that way, the Oklahoma economy is going to get stronger.”
But the improving economy won’t help the legislature in dealing with the budget crisis this year. Next year is another story.
“Almost certainly the budget challenges we’ve faced the last several sessions, that will not be the story of the next legislative session. My sense is in the next legislative session that we will see significant growth and collection reports this year,” added Dr. Evans.
But what to do this session? Raise gasoline taxes? Increase the Gross Production Tax on oil and gas?
“That’s the hard question. That’s the question I don’t have answers to, and answers to that are difficult to come by. But that’s the challenge. How do you survive today to get to the brighter days ahead?”
Listen to Jerry Bohnen’s interview of Dr. Evans.