A bill filed last week by Democratic Sen. Andrew Rice will give Oklahoma voters the choice to increase the amount of money that can be deposited in the rainy day fund each year from 10 percent of prior year collections to 15 percent. Rice said doing so will guard critical state services which all Oklahomans depend on from the chopping block in times of economic crisis.
Given that our economy in Oklahoma tends to run in up and down cycles, the Legislature needs more flexibility to stow away more revenue during good times in order to deal with future economic crises, said Rice, D-Oklahoma City.
The latest budget numbers tell us tough times are still ahead, and obviously we will be unable to set aside additional dollars in the next fiscal year, but once the economy is stable again, we need the ability to do everything possible to save for future rainy days.
Rice said current cuts to the Meals On Wheels program that feeds seniors throughout Oklahoma and cuts to other critical services serve as further proof that the states rainy day fund should be increased.
Many working families depend on state services that feed the elderly, protect our children from abuse and neglect and keep Main Street open for business in rural communities throughout Oklahoma, Rice said. Increasing the amount of money we can put away for a rainy day will give all Oklahomans peace of mind that in trying economic times they will not be left behind.
Rice said he hopes the bill will sail through the legislative process that begins in February 2010, and expects the bill will receive wide bipartisan support along the way.
This is an issue that should transcend political lines and bitter partisan divide, Rice said. Its an issue that makes good economic sense for our state and displays the value of responsible government.