Oklahoma Rainy Day Fund Amendment, State Question 757 (2010)

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The Oklahoma Rainy Day Fund Amendment was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in the state of Oklahoma as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. Approveda The measure asked voters whether or not to increase the amount of money that would go into the state's reservation funds. According to reports, the "rainy day fund" in Oklahoma was at $600 million, but reportedly was on the verge of being empty as a result of the economic decline.[1]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results

Official results of the measure follow:

Question 757 (Rainy Day Fund)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 499,287 51.02%
No479,35348.98%

Results via the Oklahoma Election Board.

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot title that voters saw on their ballots read:[2]

This measure amends the State Constitution. It amends Section 23 of Article 10. It increases the amount of surplus revenue which goes into a special fund. That fund is the Constitutional Reserve Fund. The amount would go from 10% to 15% of the funds certified as going to the General Revenue fund for the preceding fiscal year.

Shall the proposal be approved?

For the proposal

Yes: __________

Against the proposal

No: __________

Summary

The summary of the measure read:[3]

A Joint Resolution directing the Secretary of State to refer to the people for their approval or rejection a proposed amendment to Section 23 of Article X of the Oklahoma Constitution; modifying the maximum percentage of surplus funds to be placed in the Constitutional Reserve Fund; deleting obsolete language; providing ballot title; and directing filing.

Constitutional changes

The measure amended the Oklahoma Constitution by changing Article X, Section 23.[3]

Background

The state constitution mandated that 10 percent of the state's excess revenues must be placed in a rainy day fund. Oklahomans first approved a Rainy Day Fund in 1985 via a referendum[4]. Due to the economic downturn, some elected officials have pressed for passage of SQ 757[4].

State Treasurer Scott Meacham felt that the state needed more money in reserve to deal with an economic emergency. Mecham further argued that a bigger rainy day fund was needed due volatility in the gas and oil markets that effect state revenues. Oklahoma's economy was heavily dependent on the gas and oil industries.[4].

As of September 26, 2010, the State of Oklahoma had $10 in its rainy day fund. The state began the year with $596 million in the rainy day fund. Virtually all of the fund was depleted in order to fix a shortfall in the 2010 state budget[4][4].

State Representative Mike Reynolds opposed a bigger rainy day fund and called it savings accounts for lawmakers. Reynolds said that the state should have returned any excess revenues to the taxpayers. The state representative warned that there was not much of a rainy day fund for the 2010 fiscal year and worried that voters may be deceived by the amendment's passage[4][4]..

Support

Supporters

  • Governor of Oklahoma Brad Henry supported the measure, stating, "I don't think you can ever go wrong by adding more money to your savings account and conserving resources for times of emergency. If we have learned anything from the latest downturn, it is that Oklahoma's current Rainy Day Fund isn't large enough to fully protect us from every economic storm.”[5]

Opposition

Opponents

  • Mike Reynolds voted against sending the measure to the ballot, stating, "We're not going to have any Rainy Day funds this year; it was just a feel-good thing for the leadership to pass." Reynolds later stated that surplus money should be returned to taxpayers. Reynolds stated, "They'd like to have it in their own savings account. Instead, what this will do is allow the state to keep more of the taxpayers' dollars for expenses in future years."[5]

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Oklahoma ballot measures, 2010

Support

  • The Oklahoman recommended a 'yes' vote on the measure, stating, "The measure would increase from 10 percent to 15 percent the amount of surplus revenue that can go in the state's savings account. This is a responsible measure that will help Oklahoma weather future budget storms."[6]
  • The Enid News and Eagle recommended a 'yes' vote on the measure, stating, "The Rainy Day Fund is a good way to stave off disaster when the economy and state revenues fall short in any given year or period of time."[7]
  • The Tulsa World was for the measure, recommending a 'yes' vote: "SQ 757 is the only good proposal on the state ballot. It would increase the limit on the state Constitution’s “rainy day” fund from 10 percent of the amount of the previous year’s certified general revenue fund to 15 percent. That would provide the state with a larger savings account for dealing with bad budget years and restrict the amount the state budget can expand during good years. The measure, which was first proposed by Gov. Brad Henry, is prudent and should be approved."[8]
  • The Oklahoma Daily was for the measure, stating, "Money from the state’s surplus revenue is put in the Constitutional Reserve Fund, more commonly known as the Rainy Day Fund. The measure would help cushion the impact of budget crises, such as the one Oklahoma is in right now. It’s a common sense measure everyone should support."[9]
  • The Tulsa Beacon made recommendations for all the state questions on the ballot, and recommended a 'yes' vote on the measure.[10]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
  • In a poll conducted by SoonerPoll.com, 57 percent of voters polled stated that they were for the measure. The poll surveyed likely registered voters in the state, which included 385 Democrats, 340 Republicans and 31 independents. The margin of error was reported to be 3.57 percentage points and was commissioned by the Tulsa World.[11]
  • In one of the last polls taken by SoonerPoll before the general election, the results showed support of the measure by those surveyed. The poll included 384 Democrats, 345 Republicans and 24 independents.[12]
Legend

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
July 16-21, 2010 SoonerPoll.com 57% 33% 10% 755
October 18-23, 2010 SoonerPoll.com 57% 29% 14% 753

Path to the ballot

The measure was approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives with a vote of 91-8 on May 28, 2010, sending the resolution to the ballot in the fall. The Oklahoma State Legislature can approve a proposed amendment by a majority vote. (However, if the state legislature wants the proposed amendment to go on a special election ballot, it has to approve the amendment by a 2/3rds vote.)

See also

Articles

External links

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References