Holt Calls for Smarter Savings Account for State Government

By Jason Doyle Oden

Senator David Holt wants the state of Oklahoma to learn from its history of booms and busts and begin saving money in earnest. The Oklahoma City Republican has filed Senate Joint Resolution 44 to ask the people of Oklahoma to lift the cap on the Rainy Day Fund to more realistic levels. Currently, the Rainy Day Fund’s 15 percent cap is based on the general revenue fund certification. The total state budget is much larger according to Holt. He wants the cap to be based on that total budget.

Holt contends it is time for the state to show it has learned from the energy sector cycles.

“The thing that should frustrate all of us is that we have a century of experience telling us that an energy-based economy dramatically rises and falls, and yet we still don’t have a savings account that appreciates that fact,” said Holt. “Though addressing the short-term crisis is important, we should also move forward on long-term reforms like this while the lessons are fresh, or we’ll simply find ourselves in this predicament again. Now that we know our actual state budget is in excess of $24 billion, we should act to create a Rainy Day Fund that is up to the task. Our current Rainy Day Fund gives a false sense of security by measuring itself against an artificial number that is less than a quarter of the state’s actual spending. No responsible citizen would run their household this way, and neither should we.”

Holt cites Senate Appropriations Chairman Clark Jolley’s work to spell out the total state budget in the annual appropriation bill. That number was more than $24 billion dollars.

He also supports switching to a budget-only session model.

“I commend recent actions by Senate leadership to spend more time on the budget, but as long as we still consider thousands of statutory changes each year, we are not giving adequate time to the budget process. The results speak for themselves,” Holt said. “We can be a lot better at seeing around corners, but we have to dedicate the appropriate time to the task.”

If SJR 44 makes it past the Legislature this session, it could make the November 2016 General Election ballot.

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