State revenue up for October, fiscal year

Wednesday, November 10th 2004, 5:29 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ State revenue rose in October for the 16th consecutive month, fueled by natural gas and income tax collections that exceeded official estimates, the Office of State Finance said Tuesday.

The upbeat revenue report prompted state Finance Director Scott Meacham to forecast continued economic growth for the state. Meacham said it is unlikely that state agencies will be asked to cut their budgets during the fiscal year that ends June 30.

The largest budget shortfall in state history, totaling almost $600 million over two years, forced agencies to slash state programs and jobs in 2002 and 2003.

Collections by the general revenue fund last month totaled $398.6 million, according to preliminary reports. That amount was $21.1 million, or 5.6 percent, above collections in October 2003 and $41.3 million, or 11.6 percent, above the estimate for the month.

Collections are $164.3 million above the estimate for the first four months of the fiscal year as the state moves into the busy holiday shopping season, Meacham said.

``That gives us a bit of a cushion as we move through the remainder of the fiscal year,'' he said.

Revenue has exceeded prior year collections for 16 straight months, according to Shawn Ashley, public information officer for the Office of State Finance. The state has posted year-over-year gains each month since June 2003.

The largest source of state revenue, income taxes, yielded $171.9 million in October, $3.9 million, or 2.3 percent, above the prior year's collections and $21.6 million, or 14.4 percent, above the estimate.