Oklahoma’s budget shortfall is not quite $878 million
by Dale Denwalt

The state budget shortfall isn’t what it appears to be.

The budget that lawmakers are negotiating, which begins July 1, is expected to be $878 million less than was appropriated for the current budget year. But that number doesn’t take into account about $350 million in one-time funding that officials can spend without much effort or millions more in expenses that are not included in the shortfall estimate.

One-time spending has a complicated relationship with lawmakers and budget officials. Many of them decry its use, but at least some of each year’s shortfall has been filled that way.

“That would include the (available) portion of the Rainy Day Fund,” said House Appropriations Chair Leslie Osborn. “It would include revolving funds of appropriated agencies that have built up to a level they don’t need.”

The Rainy Day Fund is a special account that accrues money over time. There are limits to how it can be used, and how much can be taken out in any one year. Revolving funds are often used by agencies to save up money for large projects.

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