The state’s oil patch is pumping in millions in new tax money but Oklahoma officials are still cautioning against popping the champagne corks as we did in previous booms. The budget, next fiscal year, will remain relatively flat.
That’s because the state used millions from various pockets to balance the state’s budget this fiscal year. They had some leftover federal stimulus funds, cash from a $100 million transportation bond issue and reserve funds.
The state is looking at reducing the size of government even more next year, both in terms of people and places. A report showing the state uses 9,000 buildings on 6,000 parcels of land has left some legislators wondering aloud if they really need that much space.
Many of those buildings are in Cleveland County with the University of Oklahoma and Griffin Hospital grounds. The idea is to sell some of the space and direct that money to state Capitol buildings that are needing some structural repair.
We don’t think unloading some of those buildings will produce the revenue stream some lawmakers have anticipated. But the consolidation of various state agencies may be a better longterm strategy to reduce state spending.
Agency consolidation is projected to save the state $172 million over the next seven years. Administrative functions at agencies are being consolidated. Gov. Mary Fallin had estimated the cost savings at $140 million.