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Cap concern: Give voters chance to raise savings limit

Cap concern: Give voters chance to raise savings limit

Published: November 10, 2009

Whether it’s with a special session or during the 2010 regular session, the Oklahoma Legislature will eventually deal with state agency budgets that have been cut due to declining revenues. While they’re at it, lawmakers should provide a vehicle to expand the state’s savings account when times are good.

They can do that by giving voters the opportunity to increase to 15 percent the amount of general revenue funding that can be placed into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. The constitutional cap now stands at 10 percent.

State Treasurer Scott Meacham, who is Gov. Brad Henry’s top aide on all things financial, is calling anew for the cap to be increased. Henry tried in 2006 to get the cap raised, but as Meacham said it "hit a brick wall in the Legislature.”

That year, a House joint resolution called for a vote of the people on the issue. The resolution made it through the House but went nowhere in the Senate. The same thing happened in 2007.

The state had plenty of money to put aside then — two straight years of record revenue collections produced a $1 billion surplus in 2006 — and yet the idea got waylaid. It may now be a tougher sell, but that doesn’t make the proposal any less reasonable.

Oklahoma’s economy will flourish again. When it does, it would be nice to be able to put aside even more money for the inevitable next round of storms. The Legislature should give the people a chance to bump the Rainy Day contribution cap to 15 percent.

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