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February 7, 2014

A note of optimism for state’s revenue

NORMAN — A few of the state’s more optimistic lawmakers have held out hope that the state’s final revenue numbers would be better once the Board of Equalization meets the middle of this month.

That board will make the final certification on the amount of tax money that the legislature can appropriate and agencies can begin spending in July.

A report from the state’s treasurer suggests that optimism may be well founded.

The January gross revenue report shows record highs set in sales tax, personal income tax withholding payments and gross receipts.

“Oklahomans earned and spent at record levels during the past month,” Treasurer Ken Miller told the Tulsa World. “Also, total receipts last month brought in more than in any other January, indicating healthy performance of the state’s economy.”

Gov. Mary Fallin built her budget numbers on an early Equalization Board report that showed the state will have about $171 million fewer dollars to appropriate.

Fallin is seeking a 5 percent cut to most state agencies.

Dr. Miller said January’s total gross collections were $1.07 billion, up nearly 6 percent from January 2012.

Income tax, both personal and corporate, make up the biggest state government revenue stream.

Sales taxes were up about 3.6 percent. That category is significant in that it shows consumer confidence in the state’s economy and also helps cities and towns pay their bills.

Sales taxes are the biggest source of revenue for Oklahoma municipalities’ general operating funds.

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