Budget & Tax
Curtis Shelton | December 20, 2017
Off the charts
Gov. Mary Fallin, during the regular and first special legislative sessions, repeatedly used a chart showing cuts to state agencies since 2009. This chart is supposed to make the case for increasing taxes to boost state government spending. The Governor's numbers, however, only include appropriations. OCPA has explained numerous times how focusing on appropriations leaves out nearly two-thirds of total state spending.
Gov. Fallin's Chart
OCPA fact-checked the Governor’s chart and then came up with one of our own. This new chart, below, shows all of the same agencies but is based on changes to total spending and not just spending from legislative appropriations.
The chart used by Gov. Fallin shows 29 agencies have taken cuts of 30% or more. But in terms of total spending, only 10 agencies experienced that large of a cut. What may be most surprising is that 37 of the 66 agencies on the Governor’s list actually increased their total spending since 2009. The Governor’s chart shows only 9 agencies with an increase because it leaves out all spending except appropriations.
Meaningful reforms related to taxing, spending, and budgeting require considering all the money state government receives and spends. Particularly when times are tough, Oklahoma families budget with an eye to all their income and all their spending. Taxpayers deserve an honest budget conversation, one that starts by looking at the whole picture–and looking for ways to increase efficiency and eliminate waste–before taxpayers are asked to give up more.
Policy Research Fellow
Curtis Shelton currently serves as a policy research fellow for OCPA with a focus on fiscal policy. Curtis graduated Oklahoma State University in 2016 with a Bachelors of Arts in Finance. Previously, he served as a summer intern at OCPA and spent time as a staff accountant for Sutherland Global Services.