Why Oklahoma Lawmakers Must Find Recurring Revenue to Close the Budget Hole
Oklahoma agencies have already deeply cut spending. Oklahoma deeply cut state agency budgets during the Great Recession and never restored that funding to most state agencies. Today most agencies are funded at 10 to 30 percent below 2009 levels. Nearly every state agency has been forced to dig deep to cut less important and less efficient programs — the easy savings are already squeezed out.
Future spending cuts will be devastating to the economy and to average families. If budgets are cut as much as would be necessary without new revenues, state agencies will be forced into drastic measures that would severely harm schools, nursing homes, rural hospitals, safety net programs, and other key services. Budget cuts will also take money out of the economy at a time when Oklahoma can least afford it, because a large majority of money spent by state government goes directly to Oklahomans who are part of our state economy in both the public and private sectors.
Oklahoma has sensible revenue options. In contrast to the devastating budget cuts now on the table, Oklahoma has quite a few sensible revenue options that have so far been left untapped. These include stopping an income tax cut that was never meant to take effect in these conditions, eliminating the wasteful double deduction for state income taxes, accepting federal dollars to extend health coverage, and reducing tax incentives that have grown dramatically in recent years even as spending on most state services was being cut.