A recent report that said Oklahoma had the fastest rate of decline of tax collections in the nation is misleading, Treasurer Scott Meacham said last week.

The report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government compares the drop in state revenue from the last quarter of 2008 to the last quarter of 2009.

Meacham said the drop looks worse than it actually is because Oklahoma’s economy was still strong in late 2008, with revenue at an all-time high.

“Our economy was doing very well and we hadn’t come down as quickly as other people did,” the treasurer said.

Collections began dropping in early 2009 due to lower energy prices, which affected state energy severance-tax revenue. The price of oil fell from a high of $147 a barrel in 2008 to an average of $50 per barrel in 2009. Natural gas prices went from more than $13 per thousand cubic feet to $5.

The Rockefeller report said Oklahoma revenue collections declined 24% in the last three months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008.

However, information from the state treasurer’s office said revenues were off 27.8% in that period. Meacham said the period-to-period decline was even worse in the third quarter of 2009, as revenuesfell 29.3% from 2008.

The revenue picture for 2010 began brighter, Meacham said. Collections in January were down, but only by 16.7% from January 2009 totals.

“I think the worst of it is behind us,” he said.

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