Had the state's Rainy Day fund cap been set at 15 percent instead of 10, Oklahoma would have a much larger cushion, as much as $300 million more, to soften the impact of budget cuts. That's according to State Sen. John Ford, Republican Caucus Chairman and head of the Senate Education Committee.
Ford originally filed legislation in 2006 to allow Oklahomans to raise the cap from 10 to 15 percent, and will reintroduce his proposal, Senate Joint Resolution 47, for the 2010 legislative session. He said just a five percent increase would have made a huge impact on the state's emergency fund.
"Given a robust economy, we could have been looking at an emergency fund of nearly $900 million, compared to the $600 million in the Rainy Day fund at present," Ford said. "It could have meant the difference between being able to continue some critical services until the economy recovers instead of cutting them altogether."
Ford, who represents Craig, Nowata and Washington counties, said he had noted growing support for the legislative initiative by members of both political parties.
"We must be better prepared for future economic downturns. Passing this legislation will help us accomplish that goal."