Tuesday, July 12, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma's finance director said Monday the state will make a $219 million deposit into the depleted constitutional Rainy Day reserve fund whose current balance totals just over two bucks, thanks to strong revenue collections in June and the recently completed 2011 fiscal year.
Office of State Finance Director Preston Doerflinger said collections by the state's general revenue fund last month were almost 16 percent more than in June 2010 and that revenue for the fiscal year that ended June 30 was 10.5 percent more than the previous year.
"We're getting economic traction in all areas, including some where it appears stagnation has set in for the national economy," Doerflinger said. He said recent declines in Oklahoma's unemployment rate coincide with strong income tax collections, both individual and corporate.
Oklahoma's jobless rate fell to a 28-month low of 5.3 percent in May compared to a national unemployment rate that is more than 9 percent. In March 2010, state unemployment stood at 7.3 percent.
Strong revenue growth will permit officials to begin replenishing the state's savings account that now stands at a mere $2.03 after reaching a record of $596.6 million early last year. The money was tapped by state lawmakers over the past two years as they worked to close budget shortfalls caused by declining tax revenue during the national recession.
"It will be the largest deposit into our constitutional reserve fund since the end of the 2005 fiscal year," Doerflinger said. "And while we will likely face a tight budget again next year, this enhances stabilization of Oklahoma's overall revenue situation."
Preliminary estimates show general revenue collections in June totaled $576 million, an increase of $78.1 million from the prior year and $66.2 million over the estimate.
The end-of-the-fiscal-year total was $5.1 billion, an increase from the prior year of $487.1 million. Collections during the year topped the estimate by $219.4 million, according to preliminary figures.
"This month's revenue report is one more sign that things are trending up in Oklahoma," Gov. Mary Fallin said. "It is great news that tax revenues continue to climb, unemployment is ticking down and the state is quickly replenishing its Rainy Day fund."
The balance in the state savings account could reach new heights in the future thanks to voter approval of a constitutional amendment last year that will raise the ceiling on prior year general revenue collections that can be deposited into the fund from 10 percent to 15 percent.
Individual income tax receipts totaled $208.7 million during the month, or $28 million above the prior year and $23.6 million above the estimate. Corporate income taxes totaled $55.3 million for the month, $17.9 million more than prior year and $27.5 million above the estimate.
Sales tax collections produced $146.2 million, $11 million more than the prior year and $4.5 million above the estimate.
June taxes on natural gas and oil production accounted for $81.9 million, $30.5 million above the prior year and $27 million above the estimate.
Motor vehicle taxes produced $23.3 million, which was $4.3 million above the prior year and $7.4 million above the estimate.
By TIM TALLEY, The Associated Press