Money available for state appropriations down slightly

Monday, December 22nd 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ State revenue will increase next fiscal year, triggering an automatic drop in the income tax rate to 6.65% from 7%, under figures approved Monday by the Oklahoma Board of Equalization.

A couple filing a joint return on income of $50,000 would see a savings of about $100.

While revenues will be up, the overall amount of money available for appropriations will be down slightly, because appropriations money last year were boosted by one-time measures and expenditure of cash reserves, said Office of State Finance spokesman Sean Ashley.

Overall, $5.1 billion is projected to be available for appropriations in the 2005 fiscal year, which begins July 1. This will be down 0.1 percent from the 2004 fiscal year.

The governor will use the figures approved by the board Monday to draw up his annual budget, which the Oklahoma Legislature will consider in its next session, beginning Feb. 2. The figures will also be updated next year to allow for changes in revenue projections.

The income tax rate will drop next year under a law that requires the rate to be at 7 percent when revenues are down compared to the previous year and 6.65 percent when they are up.

Revenues are forecast to increase next fiscal year by 2.2%, or $101 million.

State officials have said it could be difficult to maintain current budget levels because the money available for appropriations has not increased.

Under the income tax rate reduction, taxpayers filing a single return on $30,000 will see a savings of $70.

The income tax relief applies to single Oklahomans who pay taxes on $10,000 or more and people filing joint returns on $21,000 or more.

Single people who make less than $15,000, beginning Jan. 1, and aren't eligible for the income tax break, will be eligible for a $40 per person sales tax credit.

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