The Oklahoma Board of Equalization last week approved a new state revenue estimate for fiscal 2013 that totals $6.6 billion, which represents an increase of $47 million from the December estimate and is $168 million higher than in fiscal 2012.

The revised estimate gives the Legislature the authority to appropriate $5.93 billion from the general fund for the fiscal year budget that begins July 1, which is an increase from $5.45 billion in fiscal 2012.

Higher-than-expected revenues from the sales and income taxes will result in an estimated surplus of $320 million in fiscal 2012, which will go into the budget stabilization fund.

With the anticipated deposit, the rainy-day fund will reach $569 million at the end of fiscal 2012, close to its all-time high of $597 million at the end of fiscal 2008.

With repeated withdrawals from the rainy-day fund to cover declining revenues, the fund dwindled down to a value just a bit more than two dollars in late 2009.

Gov. Mary Fallin, a member of the equalization board, described the higher revenue estimate as evidence that a decrease is needed in the state’s income tax rate.

“The best way to continue our prosperity and ensure Oklahoma remains economically competitive is to return this money to families in the form of an across-the-board tax cut rather than pursuing more government bureaucracy,” she said.

“It should not be seen as an excuse to increase government bureaucracy or to go on a spending spree,” Fallin said.

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