It’s not the final figure for the Oklahoma legislature, but the State Board of Equalization certified an extra $612 million to spend in the 2020 fiscal year. And it’s a move that will no doubt impact how the state deals with energy issues including the gross production tax on oil and gas and taxes on wind farms.
The new fiscal year starts July 1, 2019 and the $612.4 million legislators will be able to appropriate is 8 percent higher than the $7.7 billion authorized for the current fiscal year.
But energy operators will have to wait for the legislative session to begin to learn how legislators will deal with them.
“This is excellent news for the state of Oklahoma,” said Gov. Mary Fallin who is wrapping up her final term in office. “The actions taken at the Capitol the last two years established a much more stable financial position for our state.”
She also believes that based on the current trend, the state should be able to see another significant Rainy Day Fund deposit next year.
“I truly believe the future of our state is bright, with a low unemployment rate of 3.4 percent and $451 million in the Rainy Day Fund. The next administration and Legislature will have the resources to address many of the state’s priorities and to ensure core services are adequately funded as well as take our state to the next level.,” added Gov. Fallin. “However, as a word of caution, even though the energy sector is performing better, the price of a barrel of oil is still fluctuating and it will be important to save the Rainy Day Fund for its intended purpose of emergencies only.”
Governor-elect Kevin Stitt was excited about the Equalization Board’s decision.
“Our economy is starting to take off, unemployment is low and it’s a really, really exciting time,” he said.
But he also had a caution.
“This is not a blank check. This is not something that you can just come in and say, ‘Hey, how can we fund our pet projects.'”
The Board of Equalization will return in February to certify a final estimate on how much lawmakers will have to spend in the upcoming legislative session.