Claremore Daily Progress

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January 15, 2013

Holiday shopping helps boost state’s revenues

CLAREMORE — State finance officials say a brisk holiday shopping season helped boost Oklahoma’s sales tax receipts last month to an all-time monthly high and sends a strong signal about the state’s economic health.

But state Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger said Tuesday that despite the strong sales tax collections, overall collections to the state’s general fund were down slightly in December and for the first six months of the fiscal year, mostly due to lower oil and natural gas prices.
Total general fund collections in December were $528.9 million, down by 2.5 percent from December 2011.
Doerflinger says sales tax receipts to the state’s general fund totaled $172 million in December. That is the highest for any month ever and an increase of 12.1 percent over December 2011.
“It’s always a good thing to be riding on a wave of consumer confidence into a new year,” he said.  
“The danger of adverse repercussions from fiscal strife in Washington still lurks, however. Washington must somehow climb out of its long-time fiscal rut, stop kicking the can down the road and start solving our nation’s horrendous debt problem.”
Doerflinger added:  “Until it does, there will always be a risk of another recession and to the economic progress we have made in Oklahoma over the past two years.  Decisions still pending in D.C. also could harm our important defense and aerospace industries, as well as complicate the state budget process.”
The finance secretary said he is pleased Congress and the president, after briefly going over the so-called fiscal cliff, at least reached an agreement on taxes that staves off state and federal tax increases this year for the majority of Oklahomans. 
“Their reluctance to make the hard choices on runaway federal spending, however, is perplexing,” he said.  “I worry that their dilly-dallying eventually will take its toll on the psyche of businesses and individuals who want to invest in our economy to keep our state and country moving forward.” 

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