At a press conference recently where he restated support for more robust annual deposits into the Constitutional Reserve, popularly known as the Rainy Day Fund, Gov. Brad Henry reflected on challenges facing the Sooner State as a legacy of the recession. Both the governor and state Treasurer Scott Meacham predicted ultimately stronger tax revenues, with Meacham slightly more optimistic about the near-term.
Treasurer Meacham said, “The think of worst of this is behind us. It’s been a longer trough than normal. We’ve had to 12 months of really bad revenues, a slow recovery. That’s been about twice as long as the usual range of a revenue dip. I believe 2011 will be better than 2010. And I believe 2012 will be better than 2011.”
In his own response to a question from CapitolBeatOK, Governor Brad Henry articulated a slightly more pessimistic view. Henry, approaching the start of his last legislative session as chief executive, commented, “I’ve said all along: The rain will eventually stop. The sun will shine again and there will be a recovery. As you know many say the recovery is already underway. We are at least in the early stages of a better revenue picture, but this recovery is slower than normal.
“Now, there are economists who say it may take several years to recover; some economists say as long as 10 years. Certainly in this recovery we’re seeing a slower than normal process. “
The governor retained his hopeful view about the outcome of the current revenue crunch and the upcoming budget cycle, which Meacham has described as the worst for Oklahoma since the Great Depression.
Gov. Henry said, “We will continue to act with an eye to the future, and not overreact to the time of crisis. We have to maintain a strong foundation in order to maintain a strong position for the future.”
As this story was prepared on Tuesday, January 27, the governor and legislative leaders were preparing to announce agreement on several aspects of the state budget. The governor will deliver his State of the State address this week, when the House and Senate return for the regular legislative session.