It’s not time to panic, but state officials do need to keep an eye on the bottom line.
For the first time in two years, revenue collections for Oklahoma fell compared to a year ago.
In March, collections were $921 million, down less than $3 million from March 2011.
The fall is the result of a decline in the gross production tax on oil and natural gas. Revenue from that tax fell by 36 percent in March.
Energy accounts for about one-third of the state’s economy, according to Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller.
Lawmakers working on next fiscal year’s budget are using a figure of $3.64 per thousand cubic feet of natural gas, while the price is less than $1.90 per thousand cubic feet.
The drop in natural gas prices has been offset by high crude oil prices.
Other revenue categories also were down in March.
Personal and corporate income tax collections totaled $342 million, $5 million less than March 2011.
Personal income tax collections were up $3.5 million from the previous year, but corporate collections were down almost $9 million.
Sales tax receipts, though, were substantially higher than in the previous year, coming in at 15 percent more in March.
One month of declining revenue does not make a trend, but lawmakers need to watch the situation.
After several years of budget cuts for state agencies, we can’t over-extend ourselves now.