DALLAS — Oklahoma’s rainy-day fund likely will exceed its pre-recession level of almost $600 million by the end of fiscal 2012 on June 30, up from a low point of only $2.03 in January 2011.
Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger said Tuesday that with one month remaining in fiscal 2012, the balance in the Constitutional Reserve Fund should reach the $596.6 million that was in the emergency fund when fiscal 2009 began in July 2008.
“We are on the cusp of returning to pre-recession levels in our rainy-day fund,” Doerflinger said. “We now have 11 months of revenue in the bank, with almost 10% growth (from fiscal 2011) while exceeding the official estimate for that period by nearly $347 million.”
General fund revenues in the first 11 months of fiscal 2012 total $4.98 billion, up $450.2 million from the same period of fiscal 2011 and $346.7 million above the official estimate. If June revenue collections surpass expectations, the rainy-day fund will have a larger balance at the beginning of fiscal 2013 than it did at its previous high point, Doerflinger said.
Higher-than-expected revenues allowed Oklahoma to put $249.2 million into the fund in July 2009.
“This year’s deposit will dwarf that figure,” he said.
The Constitutional Reserve Fund was established by a constitutional amendment approved by voters in November 1985. When revenue collections exceed the previous year’s total, the additional money goes into the fund at the end of the fiscal year, up to 10% of the previous year’s total revenues.
The budget fund was first filled to its 10% limit in 2005. The state constitution was amended in November 2010 to raise the cap to 15% of the previous year’s revenues.
The rainy-day fund remained at the 10% level until 2009, when state revenue collections began falling below previous totals. No money has been put into the fund for the past two fiscal years as the revenue decline continued.
Lawmakers tapped the fund for $233.5 million in fiscal 2010.
The fiscal 2011 budget included the final $540 million of federal stimulus funds, $225 million from the budget stabilization fund, $180 million from new and enhanced collection efforts, and $150 million by freezing some tax credits.
The rainy-day fund fell to the $2.03 level in fiscal 2011 when lawmakers transferred $100 million from the fund into a separate cash account so it could be used to help ease an expected revenue gap in fiscal 2012.
Gov. Mary Fallin said the healthy balance in the rainy-day fund is a sign the state’s economy is on the right track.
“Our pro-business policies are leading to sustained economic growth,” she said. “With a continued focus on policies that create a great business climate, we’ll ensure the private sector continues to grow and expand.”