The Oklahoma Board of Equalization certified $1.6 billion more than was estimated in December on Tuesday.
The $10.49 billion will be available to lawmakers as they craft the fiscal year 2023 budget. The amount was $10.3 billion in December.
“The revenue figures show Oklahoma’s economy is still strong, but I emphatically believe it is in the best interest of the state that we continue to take a fiscally conservative approach,” Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, said in a statement. “It’s important to remember that of the $10.49 billion certified, nearly $1.3 billion is made up of one-time carryover funds and special cash from previous sessions.”
Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, said the state is sitting on a “mountain of need” because of the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Oklahomans face huge mental health effects,” Kirt said in a statement. “Uncertain economic impacts will continue to have a ripple effect. Our public schools face incredible challenges being resilient and serving our students. Oklahomans have needs that require immediate, increased and sustained investment. As we work on the state budget, we need to think about not just the next fiscal year, but the next 10 years and beyond.”
The money should go to “help those who need it most,” Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, said in a statement.
“Federal COVID relief funds have jump-started Oklahoma’s economy and the revenue numbers shown today reflect that,” Hicks said. “Taxpayers expect the legislature to make smart investments, not stash our tax dollars in government savings accounts leaving much needed funding on the table.”
Thompson said the state will not always have an influx of pandemic relief funds.
“Knowing that will change, and that energy prices will not always remain as high as they are now, we must be cautious in our approach to the budget,” Thompson said. “We need to continue to boost our emergency savings and make careful decisions now while the economy is strong, so that we are prepared for what may come the next few years.”
This article was originally posted on Oklahoma Board of Equalization certifies $10.49B in revenue