AP News

Okla. general revenue collections slow in August

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma's secretary of finance said Wednesday that low oil and natural gas prices slowed collections by the state's General Revenue Fund last month.

But Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger said sales tax receipts have beat collections from the prior year by double digits during the first two months of the fiscal year that began July 1 and remain "a silver lining for the Oklahoma economy."

"It's too early to proclaim a slowdown in the Oklahoma economy, which has had an incredible rebound from the recession over the past two years" Doerflinger said. "After all, sales tax growth is perhaps the leading indicator of our economic strength, our corporate taxes are up and our 4.9 percent unemployment rate is the envy of neighboring states."

Total collections in August were about $386 million — down $28 million or 6.8 percent from August 2011 — and is $17 million lower than the estimate.

But sales tax collections beat the estimate by about 4 percent in July and by 6 percent in August. Sales tax collections in August also exceeded the prior year by 12 percent.

Gov. Mary Fallin said the latest revenue report indicates Oklahoma's economy is fundamentally sound.

"Our recent economic success, however, won't continue unless we continue our laser-like focus on pro-growth reforms," Fallin said. "For Oklahoma to continue its forward momentum, we will need to continue to pursue job creating policies here on a state level."

In August, gross production collections from natural gas brought in just $154,439 while the General Revenue Fund saw no money from oil collections, according to the revenue report.

Refunds and other required distributions absorbed most of the $14 million in gross collections from natural gas. As required by state law, the first gross production oil tax collections were distributed to specific funds, primarily involving education.

Individual income tax receipts for the month totaled almost $140 million — $21.7 million below the prior year and $7.3 million below the estimate. Doerflinger said part of the decline involved the timing of the remittance of withholding taxes.

But corporate tax collections were up for the month, contributing almost $4 million to the General Revenue Fund. Collections were $1.6 million or almost 70 percent above the estimate.

Sales tax collections in August produced almost $163 million, which was $17.6 million more than the prior year and $9.6 million above the estimate.

Motor vehicle taxes produced $19.6 million in August, a $353,000 drop from the previous year and $150,000 below the estimate.

General Revenue collections for the first two months of the fiscal year were $775.5 million, down $22 million from the previous year, but $3 million above the estimate.

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