Oklahoma state agencies will have their budgets held to 95% of appropriations for a third consecutive month as the decline in revenue steepened, and spending will be cut by about $21 million, according to Treasurer Scott Meacham.
“Once again, collections were well below the prior year level and the official estimate,” Meacham said last week. “Once again, we have to cut allocations by 5%.”
General revenue collections for September totaled $433.9 million, some $178.7 million less than expected and $186.8 million less than in the first three months of fiscal 2010.
General revenue collections in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 are $388 million below the official estimate and $462 million less than in the same period of fiscal 2009.
Revenues will not rebound until the state’s economy improves, the governor noted.
“More likely than not, these cuts will continue through the rest of the fiscal year based on the numbers we are seeing right now,” Meacham said.
The biggest decline came in gross production taxes on natural gas, which generated $16.8 million in September compared to $82 million last year.
House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, said state agencies should be ready for more severe cuts if the revenue slide continues.
“We have no reason to believe the revenue trend is going to drastically change anytime soon,” Benge said. “Because of this, I urge state agencies to not only restrain spending, but also proactively prepare for the possibility of deeper cuts in the future to bring expenditures better in line with current collections.”
Senate President pro tempore Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, said further action on the state budget may be needed before the Legislature convenes next year.
“The speaker and I will meet with the governor as soon as we possibly can and begin those discussions,” he said.