"I think the budget estimate is good news for a couple of reasons. It indicates that after almost a full decade of growth our economy is still expanding and creating new jobs. That's a tribute to the many policy changes we initiated after the oil bust and the hard work of the Oklahomans who stuck it out during those lean times. We probably wouldn't be looking at so rosy a financial picture today had we not made some tough decisions then and approved programs like Quality Jobs and the Education Reform Act of 1990.
Even though the growth revenue is certainly encouraging from an economic perspective, it's still going to be tough to meet the state's many financial obligations. People have to remember we passed the largest road construction program in state history last year and have to pay another installment. We also approved a plan to lock up more and more violent criminals and that's going to cost money. When you throw in education and all the other state services people rely on, the pot of growth money shrinks pretty quickly. I'm afraid needs are still going to outweigh resources, no matter how you add the numbers up.
It's like looking at your bank statement at the end of the holidays. You may have had a great year, but you still have a lot of financial commitments to meet if you want to keep your head above water. The state of Oklahoma is no different. The growth money is good news because it will give us a little breathing room, but it's not going to reduce the number of difficult decisions we have to make in the months to come."