Monday, December 13, 2010

Budget Outlook for Oklahoma

If you are unfamiliar with the Oklahoma Policy Institute, go to its website and bookmark it, add it to you feed reader or follow it on Twitter. It is the premier source for "timely and credible information, analysis and commentary on policy issues affecting Oklahoma."

Often quoted by the Tulsa World and Daily Oklahoman for its continuing series analyzing our state's fiscal policy and planning, its latest blog post is must-reading if you want the details and not just the spin.

Its latest analysis is a call to government to develop a long-term plan for revenue and expenditures, not just dealing with "this year's shortfall." According to David Platt, executive director, "we face a short-term outlook in which overall budgets are falling or flat; in FY ’14, three budget cycles from now, we project that the budget will still be less than FY ’08." 

Every Oklahoman should become familiar with the term "tax expenditures." It is a budget term that essentially means depleting our tax base by giving tax exemptions, deductions, incentives, credits and the like that allow taxes not to be paid when they otherwise would. You didn't here about this until OKPolicy released its research early this year and reported that "[t]he total cost of tax expenditures - at least $5.6 billion in FY ’08 – equals more than 75 per-cent of total state appropriations and grew by over $1 billion, or 23 percent, in just two years."

The easy answer is to keep on doing what we've been doing, but OKPolicy gives us hope that farsighted, informed decision-making will lead to a stronger Oklahoma.

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