The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 4, 2012

Oklahoma treasurer says fiscal cliff may harm economy

By Tim Talley
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma's treasurer warned Tuesday that the so-called federal fiscal cliff's combination of tax hikes and reduced government spending could harm the state's economy.

Congressional negotiators are working with President Barack Obama to avoid steep tax hikes and spending cuts set to go into effect at the beginning of 2013.

Treasurer Ken Miller said failure to reach a compromise would mean a tax increase for Oklahomans and likely spending cuts at the state's military bases and government facilities.

"The way that they handle this fiscal cliff will affect Oklahoma's growth," Miller said. "With each day you have more and more concern. It doesn't seem that there is a lot of compromise going on."

Miller, a Republican elected to the statewide post in 2010, railed against what he described as "out of control federal spending" but said the deep cuts would be devastating.

Meanwhile, Miller said state revenue collections dipped slightly in November primarily because of reduced gross production payments on oil and natural gas. But he said consumer confidence remains high and sales tax receipts rose.

"In spite of a slight dip in receipts for the month, there's no reason to believe Oklahoma's economy is pulling back," Miller said. "Over the past 12 months, receipts have grown by almost 5 percent."

Sales tax collections in November were up 8.5 percent from the prior year. Receipts for Black Friday, considered the biggest shopping day of the year, will not be remitted until Dec. 20.

"But certainly all indications are that was a good day," Miller said.

Miller said gross revenue between December 2011 and November was about $11 billion, $487 million higher than collections from the previous 12 months. Personal income tax collections for the period totaled $3.36 billion, up $203 million from the prior 12 months. Corporate collections were $594 million, an increase of $123 million.

Sales taxes generated $4.15 billion, an increase of $334 million from the prior 12 months. Oil and gas production tax collections brought in $739, down almost $303 million, and motor vehicle collections totaled $709 million, an increase of $55 million from the previous 12 months.