By JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS
TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Some economists estimate Oklahoma will begin the new year on stronger footing than many other states that are yet to recover from the recession.
They say the state's prosperous energy industry, coupled with a low unemployment rate and growth of manufacturing jobs, helped set Oklahoma apart this year.
The improving financial picture means Gov. Mary Fallin will have more money to work with as she crafts a budget for the upcoming fiscal year - nearly $215 million more than last year, according to early revenue estimates.
The extra money is projected to help grow the balance of the state's Rainy Day Fund next year to an all-time high of more than $600 million.
The fund only had about $2 in it when Fallin took office in 2011.
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