The latest budget estimate released by the State Equalization Board today is another piece of "irrefutable evidence" showing that Oklahoma's economic policies are working, according to a Senate budget leader.
"When the economy is growing so fast that it's producing millions and millions of dollars in growth revenue, you have to conclude that Oklahoma is on the right track, especially when it comes to the economic policies we've enacted in the past decade," said Senator Kelly Haney, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
"To conclude anything to the contrary would be to ignore the cold, hard facts."
According to the latest equalization board estimate, Oklahoma will have an additional $217 million available for appropriation in Fiscal Year 1998. The increase represents " revenue growth of 5.2 percent.
"I know some people had been predicting a budget crunch, but the numbers and the facts just don't back up that story. The reality is it's going to be a very good year, despite the misinformation some of the naysayers have been peddling in recent months," said Senator Haney.
Even with the growth revenue, the Seminole legislator cautioned that Oklahoma's needs will, as usual, outweigh its resources.
"We're still in the bottom 10 in education spending, we have to make additional improvements M to our roads and highways and we must address the needs of public safety.
"If we want our economic growth to continue, we'll have to address all those areas, primarily the continuing needs of education. Time and time again, the experts have counseled that strong public schools are the best job creation tool you can have in your economic development arsenal. We have to remember that in Oklahoma," said Senator Haney.
The Senate budget leader also noted that the growth revenue will give Oklahoma some added cushion to minimize the affects of impending federal budget cuts.
"The U.S. Congress is cutting funds for everything from roads to education. We'll have to be ready to take up the slack in Oklahoma," said Senator Haney.
"Our $200 million-plus cushion is certainly better than nothing, but it probably won't I be enough to do everything we need to do for the people of Oklahoma."