OKLAHOMA CITY — The Office of Management and Enterprise Services said Tuesday that the state’s fluid revenue situation — and not any wrongdoing — was responsible for a $10 million gap in education funding.
The gap came to light in February when OMES was preparing state Board of Equalization documents. This required the Board of Equalization to certify that funds from the Oklahoma Lottery were supplanting rather than enhancing regular education funding.
Essentially, the finding meant that the lottery’s share of total state funding to education increased in the fiscal year 2017 budget while other forms of state funding decreased.
Although the shift was relatively small, it was the first time since the lottery began in 2006 that a “supplanting” declaration had been made.
The Legislature is constitutionally obligated to make up the $10.1 million shortfall this session.
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OMES said the situation was created by revenue failures during fiscal year 2016, which ended last June 30, and resulting budget cuts totaling 7 percent.
Those budget cuts proved steeper than necessary, which resulted in a return of funds to all state agencies equaling 2.6 percent of general revenue.
This caused an upward adjustment in final 2016 revenue — but not before the 2017 budgets were set.
OMES says that moving bottom line, and a 20 percent drop in the lottery revenue estimates for 2017, led to education being cut slightly more than the rest of state government.
“There’s nothing illegal about what happened,” said Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger.
“The Legislature is constitutionally bound to take up the process from here and ensure the $10 million gets appropriated to the Lottery Trust Fund,” Doerflinger said. “This needs to be addressed before any appropriations can be made for fiscal year 2018.”