Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry wants to use the interest earned from the budget stabilization fund as a permanent funding source for the state’s Economic Development Generating Excellence endowment effort.
When it was first proposed in 2003, the plan was to establish a $1 billion endowment to finance research projects in the state. The EDGE fund currently contains $150 million, with interest earnings designated to the general fund.
Under the governor’s proposal, designated funds would not begin flowing to the endowment or research projects until the current state budget crunch is over and projections indicate revenue trends are returning to normal.
The state will have $600 million less to spend in fiscal 2010, which begins July 1, than it did in fiscal 2009.
“Obviously, our first order of business this year is to address the state’s short-term budget challenges and we will do that, but we cannot afford to neglect our long-term job creation needs in the process,” Henry said. “A well-funded EDGE endowment and the high-paying research jobs it creates are critical to Oklahoma’s future economic growth, so it is important to make a commitment now.”
Treasurer Scott Meacham said the state’s rainy-day fund contains $596.6 million.
Henry also wants Oklahoma to deposit 35% of its annual investment earnings from its $5 billion portfolio into the endowment. Interest totals about $150 million a year.
A 35% share of the annual interest would put $50 million a year into the endowment, Meacham said.