DALLAS — Oklahoma put $249.2 million of fiscal 2011 revenues into its rainy-day fund on Monday, up from July’s estimate of a $219 million deposit.
State finance director Preston Doerflinger said the larger deposit was possible due to higher-than-expected revenues after a final reconciliation of all general fund sources for the fiscal year that ended June 30.
The deposit was the largest since the end of fiscal 2005.
In February, the state estimated that $71 million could be put into the rainy-day fund at the end of fiscal 2011, but in early June the estimate was raised to $140 million.
Doerflinger said the deposit was larger than predicted because monthly revenues have been outpacing the year-earlier totals by double digits. That slowed down in July, he said, but the trend is still positive.
“This is really no surprise,” Doerflinger said.
“We fully expected that the growth rate would moderate eventually, simply because collection of some revenue, such as income taxes, can vary greatly from month to month,” he said. “We’re still showing steady growth and I am optimistic that we can maintain that in future months.”
Despite the recent market turmoil, Doerflinger said, Oklahoma’s economy is showing strength.
“I’m concerned, of course, by Wall Street’s reaction to the debt ceiling debacle in Washington and the downgrading of our country’s bond rating,” he said. “But this should not overshadow the progress we’ve made economically here in Oklahoma.”
Doerflinger said fiscal 2011 revenues were helped by “pent-up demand leading to a buying spree by Oklahomans in 2011.”
“Consumer confidence has been high in Oklahoma and our revenue collections have been stronger than most states for some time now,” he said. “While you could expect buying to level off this year, I see no reason for our citizens to succumb to the doom-and-gloom predictions of some economists.”
Before the yearend deposit, the constitutional reserve fund had been depleted to $2.03. The fund reached its constitution limit of 10% of annual state revenues in fiscal 2008 at $596.6 million, but the fund dwindled as lawmakers tapped it to compensate for declines in state revenues.
Lawmakers drew almost $500 million from the fund in fiscal 2009 and 2010 to fill budget holes. The 2010 Legislature transferred the remaining $100 million into a separate cash account so the money could be used in the fiscal 2012 budget.
The fund had been at the $2.03 level since July 1, 2010, the state treasurer’s office said.
If general fund revenues exceed the official estimate by the State Board of Equalization, the extra revenues are put into the rainy-day fund until it is at 15% of the previous fiscal year’s revenues.
Voters approved a constitutional measure in November 2010 that raised the maximum fund level to 15% of annual general fund collections from 10%.