State of Oklahoma ends fiscal year with surplus

Tuesday, July 13th 2004, 5:43 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma ended it fiscal year with no budget cuts and money left over.

The state's revenue report, which is to be released Tuesday, will include a $200-million infusion in the state's Rainy Day Fund.

State Finance Director Scott Meacham said tax collections have continued to increase beyond last year's total and beyond official projections.

"Based on what we've seen so far, we have a reason to be optimistic," Meacham told The Oklahoman.

Deposits to the Constitutional Reserve, also called the Rainy Day Fund, occur at the end of the fiscal year when collections exceed estimates. The state last made a deposit to the fund at the end of fiscal year 2001.

The Rainy Day Fund had been depleted after two years of revenue shortfalls and budget cuts.

Both Meacham and Gov. Brad Henry have urged legislators not to spend any additional funds the state might have.

"We can't keep living off the Rainy Day Fund," Meacham said.

Voters in 1985 created the Rainy Day Fund to deal with state budget emergencies. Since the fund's creation, it has been tapped for more than $1 billion for projects, including prison and Capitol dome construction.

Other expenditures included the state's prosecution of Terry Nichols for the Murrah Building bombing, rural fire department grants and maintenance of state buildings.

School consolidation, higher education trust funds, a weather center, drug court programs, armory maintenance, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol academy, lake spillway repairs and golf courses were also paid for with Rainy Day funds.

The governor must declare an emergency before the money can be used.