As we have been expecting, the Board of Equalization Tuesday will certify revenue figures showing a budget shortfall of more than $600 million. While this presents us with a significant challenge, it also gives us a chance to take a closer look at state spending and the structure of our budget to determine where we can be more efficient.
At times like these, we are given an opportunity to prove our commitment to core principles we espouse as Republicans – responsible spending and good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
To make good on that commitment, we need to have the willingness to identify opportunities for savings before we take money from the people’s saving account – the Rainy Day Fund. Identifying savings will also help limit the practice of utilizing one-time money to fund ongoing expenses. Just as Oklahomans do at the dinner table every day, we need to take a good look at our spending and determine what is necessary.
We also need to rethink the increasing percentage of off the top apportionments. Since 2009, state tax collections have increased by $700 million, but this has only given the Legislature $100 million more to appropriate from the general revenue fund. That represents an additional $600 million in state spending that isn’t subjected to the scrutiny of the legislative process.
Since 2007, the amount of every tax dollar the Legislature is allowed to appropriate has decreased from 55 cents to 47 cents. It’s time for us to address this trend.