State budget remains stagnant for '08 

State agencies using up Christmas wishes for next year's budget better get use to two words: Forget it.

 

Numbers from the State Office of Finance indicate that while state revenue is up, the money available for agencies is flat. State Finance Director Tony Hutchinson said the budget for fiscal year 2009 is near the same number for 2008. His office projects the Legislature will have $7.1 billion to spend for 2009, only $32 million more than the previous year - an increase of less than 1 percent.

 

"The state's economy is doing well, but it's not as hot as before," Hutchinson said.

 

GROWTH

Collections for the general revenue fund, the state's main funding source, are expected to grow by nearly $200 million or 3.4 percent. But after recent tax cuts enacted by the Legislature go into effect next year, the amount of the revenue growth going toward the state budget will be cut by more than 75 percent. It is estimated the total amount of funding impacted by the recent tax cuts and other tax changes is $290 million.

 

Along with the tax cuts, another factor for the funding decrease is a change in the standard deduction for income taxes. That figure will change from 5.55 percent to 5.5 percent.

 

Other earmarks also taking money from the fund include transportation appropriations for road funding and higher education for the Oklahoma's Promise scholarship fund. -Scott Cooper

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Scott Cooper

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