Kaye Beach

Lawmaker Says It’s Time to Declare Revenue Failure

In Oklahoma Economy on November 10, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Oklahoma House of Representatives

Media Division

November 10, 2009


Contact: State Rep. Mike Reynolds

Capitol: (405) 557-7337

Lawmaker Says It’s Time to Declare Revenue Failure


OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Mike Reynolds today urged the director of State
Finance and members of the State Board of Equalization to formally declare
a “revenue failure” to “keep a bad budget situation from becoming worse.”

“Revenue collections for the year are clearly falling far, far
short of authorized spending and are unlikely to recover anytime soon,”
said Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City. “In light of these trends, it is grossly
irresponsible to delay the declaration of a revenue failure any longer.”

If the seven-member State Board of Equalization, chaired by
the governor, makes a formal declaration of revenue failure, then and only
then can the Office of State Finance cut monthly allocations. The Governor
could also try to call the Legislature into Special Session at that time.

However, without a formal declaration from the board, Reynolds noted it is
questionable if any budget cuts can legally be enacted.

Year-to-date collections for the first quarter of the fiscal
year were $462.1 million below prior year collections and 26 percent lower
than the official estimate. Collections for October are expected to
continue that trend.

So far, agencies have be asked to reduce spending by 5 percent
in spite of the 26 percent decline in revenue, Reynolds noted.

“To continue on the current path is a recipe for financial
disaster,” Reynolds said. “The math simply does not work – 5 percent
spending cuts will not fill a 26-percent shortfall. If we continue to
delay action until the final months of the fiscal year it will require
agency cuts far greater than 26 percent in the space of a few months. The
State Equalization Board has a duty to prevent that kind of chaos and
should act now.”

The seven-member State Board of Equalization develops the revenue estimate
for the state budget. The board’s members include Gov. Brad Henry, Lt.
Gov. Jari Askins, State Auditor and Inspector Steve Burrage, State
Treasurer Scott Meacham, Attorney General Drew Edmondson, Board of
Agriculture President Terry Peach, and state Superintendent of Public
Instruction Sandy Garrett.

Currently, all the board members are Democrats.

“I certainly hope the board is not delaying action on the budget for
partisan reasons,” Reynolds said. “Although the State Board of
Equalization is controlled by Democrats and the Legislature is controlled
by Republicans, we have a duty to work together in a responsible manner to
address budget problems that impact all Oklahomans. This is not the time
for cynical political games.”


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