The revenue outlook for Oklahoma is a little brighter than was expected in late 2009 due to rising energy prices that increase the collection of oil and gas severance taxes.

The Tax Equalization Board last week certified a revenue estimate of $4.7 billion for fiscal 2011, which begins July 1. That’s $124.8 million more than was expected in the December estimate.

Oklahoma’s fiscal 2011 revenue shortfall is projected at $1.2 billion due to a decline in general fund revenue of $791.2 million

The Legislature can appropriate no more than 95% of anticipated general fund revenues, or $4.4 billion in fiscal 2011.

The latest revenue estimate for the remainder of fiscal 2010 is $60.8 million more than December’s, but still $939.6 million less than expected when the fiscal 2010 budget of $5.4 billion was developed last spring.

Gov. Brad Henry and Republican leaders in the Legislature have agreed that the fiscal 2010 budget must be balanced before work can begin on the 2011 budget.

The latest plan for balancing the budget — which was approved by Senate and House appropriations committees last week — copes with a projected revenue shortfall in fiscal 2010 with $385 million in agency budget cuts and $223.5 million from the state’s $599 million rainy-day fund.

The Tax Equalization Board is made up of the governor, five other elected officials, and the secretary of agriculture.

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