State agencies to be cut 16.6%

Tuesday, May 14th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Citing falling tax collections, officials announced Tuesday that state agency budgets will be slashed 16.6 percent in May and June.

A report from the Office of State Finance showed sales taxes and income taxes dipped in April and natural gas severance tax collections continued to come in below estimates.

The Tax Commission collected $491.1 million in all, well above the $391.7 million needed to meet budget allocations.

But a revenue failure occurred because officials had borrowed from reserves to meet allocations in March and April.

``With only two months of collections remaining in the fiscal year, it is highly unlikely that revenues will move significantly toward the level we anticipated last month,'' said Tom Daxon, OSF director. ``This makes it necessary for us to impose additional cuts.''

The 16.6 percent translates to a $63.5 million cut for May and June. The annualized reduction is 3.91 percent.

``Our first responsibility is to protect the fiscal integrity of the state,'' Daxon said. ``We will do that. Our Legislature has designed a system of financial checks to prevent our situation from unraveling completely and I intend to carry out my responsibilities.''

Officials borrowed $119.9 million from the Rainy Day Fund to help pay the bills in March and April after revenues came in below estimates.

Alisan Fraser, OSF deputy director, said officials cannot borrow additionally from the fund ``since there will be no way we can pay it back'' before the end of the fiscal year June 30.