People Agencies Predicted Biggest Users of Funds

Article excerpt

Education, law enforcement and prisons, and health-related items will command attention for state appropriations during the 1990s, predicts Larkin Warner, regents professor of economics at Oklahoma State University.

In an article in the Oklahoma Business Bulletin of December 1989, Warner examines the shifting targets of state funds beginning with fiscal year 1985.

Comparing fiscal 1985 appropriations with fiscal 1990, Warner noted that expenditures for transportation, supplemental appropriations and capital outlay/special projects were substantially lower in 1990.

"Increased earmarked motor fuel tax rates permitted the Oklahoma Legislature to essentially abolish highway appropriations in FY 90," Warner said.

Moreover, Gov. Henry Bellmon had some success in fighting the "pork" component of special projects, he said. Finally, a more stable state finance picture probably reduced the need for supplemental appropriations, he said.

From those areas, the money appears to have flowed mainly to education, the Department of Human Services, and public safety, which includes corrections and law enforcement, Warner said.

The figures show that education, human services and public safety took a higher profile during the 1989 legislative session, which appropriated for fiscal 1990, than the 1984 session, which appropriated for fiscal 1985, he said.

Which brings us to the 1990s.

"Education will continue to gain significance as labor force skill requirements escalate rapidly and the United States emphasizes research and development activities to become more competitive worldwide," Warner said.

Second, he said crime, particularly drug-related, would continue to prompt demand for better law enforcement and expanded corrections systems.

Health care costs will continue to rise rapidly, he said, and with an aging population and growing uncompensated medical care, appropriations to the Department of Human Services will continue to grow the fastest.

Additionally, Warner said Oklahomans are concentrating in the state's urban areas, which need to upgrade and expand sewerage, water, streets, airports, parks and public works.

"State government itself has not had a capital improvements program since 1983," he said.

There are also deficiencies in the state's rural and intercity road network.

Bellmon has not presented his executive budget, but he has hinted at a proposed bond issue for capital improvements.

Warner said a Governor's Advisory Task Force on Infrastructure in 1985-86 estimated that budget outlays for such maintenance projects would be short by $450 million each year during a period ending in 2000. . .

Property, Federal Taxes Rated Least Fair With the prospect of a $230 million tax increase for common education lurking about the Oklahoma Capitol, some information from the Commerce Clearing House Inc. might be of interest.

To recap, House Bill 1017 by House Speaker Steve Lewis, D-Shawnee, and State Sen. President Pro Tempore Robert Cullison, D-Skiatook, would raise funds for common education by increasing the state sales tax 1/2-cent to 4.5 cents; raising the corporate income tax rate from 5 to 6 percent; and increasing personal income tax collections by 10 percent.

The clearing house, which is a tax and business law publisher, said America's taxpaying public thinks state income taxes and sales taxes are more fair than local property taxes and the federal income tax.

This report was compiled from a survey conducted by the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.

When questioned on what tax is worst, or the least fair, 10 percent of respondents chose the state income tax and 18 percent chose the state sales tax, the clearing house said.

Some 27 percent said the federal income tax was least fair, and 32 percent said the local property tax was the worst of all. …

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