Wednesday, December 21, 2011

State Of Affairs: Fiscal 'Insanity'

By Jonathan Small/Oklahoma Council Of Public Affairs
The weeping and gnashing of teeth continues regarding Oklahoma’s failure to spend money at “pre-recession levels.” Both national and state tax-user advocates are ready to gobble up any future growth in revenue.

If one includes replacement of one-time revenues, it is estimated that growth revenue in Oklahoma over the prior year will be $300 million to $600 million. State agencies have staked their claim to this revenue growth by requesting an increase of more than $1 billion in state appropriations and an increase in personnel of 928 full-time-equivalent employees (above and beyond the excess number we already have). If state agencies get their wish, the state will spend a record $7.5 billion in appropriations for FY-2013 (based on the budget requests that have been submitted to the Office of State Finance).

This is pure insanity. State agency requests exceed even the best estimates by almost $800 million.

Oklahoma citizens have worked hard and generated a better than-the-national-average economy, and the thanks they get are state agencies lining up to gobble up any future growth in revenue. Let’s hope lawmakers, unlike bureaucrats, remember that not a penny of revenue in state coffers was made possible without the hard work of taxpayers. Instead, any revenue growth should be viewed as an opportunity to phase out Oklahoma’s personal income tax.

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