Doerflinger asserts “Oklahoma is more than OK”

Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger, responding to concerns over low natural gas prices, said Thursday (April 26) the Oklahoma economy is still going strong and the state revenue picture continues to look bright for the next fiscal year.

 “The easiest thing in the world to sell is doubt and fear, even if there’s little or no basis for it,” Doerflinger said.  “As public officials, we have an obligation not to be an alarmist and to be cautious in our assessment of the overall economy and not get bogged down in negativism over one aspect.”

In reflections sent to CapitolBeatOK and other news organizations, Doerflinger continued,  “Our assessment, based on key economic indicators such as declining unemployment, rising sales taxes and increased oilfield activity, is that Oklahoma is more than OK as we head toward the 2013 fiscal year, which begins July 1.”

Doerflinger added, “Of course, we are concerned about low natural gas prices and are hoping they will rebound.  But we do not anticipate that the natural gas situation will lead to a state budget hole in Fiscal Year 2013, just as it hasn’t caused a revenue problem for the current fiscal year.  That’s because the energy industry as a whole is growing as is our entire state economy.

“The vigorous growth in overall collections to the General Revenue Fund has more than made up for lagging natural gas collections.  In fact, we’re expecting to end this fiscal year with a surplus that could exceed $300 million. 

“We’ve seen record sales tax collections this year, no doubt driven in part by the boom in the oil patch, which has been spurred by enhanced drilling techniques. There’s no reason to expect a  slowdown anytime soon as  industry experts, economists and the federal  government are projecting oil prices will  continue to increase in FY-2013, perhaps $10 to $15 per barrel higher than the figure used in our official state estimate.

“The economic activity generated by the upsurge in the oilfields, plus growth in other areas of our economy, should easily offset any revenue loss from declining natural gas tax collections, caused largely by the unusually mild winter weather.”