BY World's Editorials Writers
Thursday, March 14, 2013
3/14/13 at 7:58 AM
A monthly report shows state revenues down 10.2 percent from February of 2012. Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger says it really is not as bad as it looks.
Let's hope Doerflinger is correct, and that February was an anomaly because of higher than normal income tax refunds, because the Legislature is busily ramming through another cut in personal income tax rates.
This quarter-percent cut would be of almost negligible benefit to state taxpayers individually but collectively it means an even greater blow to underfunded state services that have never rebounded from recessions in 2001 and again in 2008.
Collections to the general revenue fund brought in $254.6 million in February, or $28.9 million less than collections for February of fiscal 2012. Gross production tax collections last month contributed $36.1 million after rebates, or 33 percent less than February of last year. Collections from natural gas - a number to watch - accounted for $10.4 million, or 44.6 percent less than the previous year.
Individual and corporate income taxes in February brought in $19.2 million, or 42.3 percent less than the previous year. Individual income taxes generated $18.3 million, or 42.8 percent less than the previous year.
Corporate tax collections contributed $885,000, or 30.2 percent less than in the same time the year before; sales tax collections generated $151.3 million, which was 4.5 percent higher than the previous year.
Even with a diversification of its economy Oklahoma still depends mightily on the oil and gas industry for revenues.
Prudent lawmakers would think through the ramifications of cutting income taxes at a time when state revenues are on a roller coaster ride. But rational and lawmaker - at his point in history - is a contradiction in terms.