by Rep. Kevin Wallace, Oklahoma House District 32
Oklahoma government continues operations even during these ever-changing times. I and other House budget leaders are continuing our budget negotiations with the state Senate and the governor’s office. We are working with the tax commission on the projected revenue impact from the Coronavirus and global energy battles that are driving down commodity prices such as oil and gas.
We came into this session with record high reserves, but with many small businesses such as restaurants and bars, and larger venues such as concert and event arenas and casinos closed, that will have a hit on sales tax revenues, although grocery stores and other places that sell necessities may help soften that. With many of those employees at least temporarily on reduced hours or on hiatus, we also will see a loss of personal income tax and perhaps higher unemployment payments. Oil also is selling for less than $30 a barrel at the moment as several oil producing nations war over production and price. Oklahoma is an energy state, and commodity prices heavily impact our state’s economy.
We could very well have a budget shortfall coming into the next fiscal year, which will force us to consider some cuts to state services. We are working to assure core services continue in a manner that best serves Oklahomans.
The House this week also second read all Senate bills that recently were sent over from that chamber. We’ve assigned bills to various committees to be heard when the House reconvenes. We’ve temporarily suspended deadlines for when bills have to pass out of committee and off the floor of the chamber. As you can imagine, we will put a priority on which bills are considered. I will keep you posted as our work progresses.
If you have any questions, the State Department of Health has established a new website providing current information: http://coronavirus.health.ok.gov.
Kevin Wallace is the state representative for House District 32, which includes all of Lincoln County and a small portion of Logan County. He is the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and also serves on the house Natural Resources and Wildlife Committees. A lifelong Lincoln County native and Wellston High School graduate, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1993. Kevin founded American Cellular Service and Dynatek Development Services, which he sold in 2000. That same year he founded SWT Construction, where he continues to serve as a manager. He also owns an equipment rental company and a small investment firm. Kevin is co-owner of The Wilderness Refuge, a hunting reserve, and Wallahachie L.L.C., a whitetail deer and cattle breeding operation. He is an active member of First Baptist Church of Wellston.