DALLAS — Oklahoma tax revenue in February exceeded the official forecast for the first time since December 2008, with better-than-expected collections from personal income and energy production taxes.
Treasurer Scott Meacham said Tuesday that general revenue collections last month totaled $220.6 million. The monthly revenue is $800,000 more than expected, but $17.3 million less than collected in February 2009.
General fund collections for the first eight months of fiscal 2010 total $2.83 billion, Meacham said, down $980 million from $3.81 billion generated in the same period of fiscal 2009.
At a news conference on Tuesday, the treasurer said the boost in February is a sign that Oklahoma’s economy is on the mend. The bottom probably occurred in the last quarter of 2009, he said.
“We’re starting to see the very first signs of what has been the longest, deepest downturn in state revenue history may be finally starting to bottom out and end,” Meacham said.
Oklahoma had to take $84.8 million from other state funds to make the $321.1 million monthly allocation to state agencies due to insufficient revenue, but Meacham said such transfers are always required in February.
“February revenue collections are historically the lowest of the year due to payment of income tax refunds,” he said.
The state has supplemented monthly revenue by borrowing $290 million from various funds. The money must be repaid by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
The official revenue forecast called for no deposits into the general fund from the gross production tax on oil in fiscal 2010, but the levy provided $25 million in February.
The first $150 million from the oil production tax is annually earmarked for several education funds. That limit has already been achieved.
An additional boost came from Oklahoma’s personal and corporate income taxes, according to Meacham.
“The Tax Commission’s original estimate expected that refund payments would be $9.1 million greater than collections,” he said. “However, after $158.3 million in refunds were paid, a total of $10.7 million remains.”
House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, said he is hopeful Oklahoma has seen, or soon will see, the bottom of the economic recession.
“But even though the significantly lowered estimate was met this month, that does not change the fact that our state is still facing a $1.2 billion shortfall for fiscal year 2011, and agencies are currently facing significant additional cuts if revenue projections prove true,” Benge said.
Sales tax collections in February totaled $14.1 million, which was $19.3 million less than expected and $11.1 million less than collected in February 2009.