We are not OK

We are not OK

Life seems to have been toeing the line of the surreal for the past couple weeks while events, local and national, happen in real time and evolve over a period of days.  This past week there was a candidate forum for those running for Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party where four of the five candidates attended.  We Oklahoma Democrats will be electing a new chair next Saturday at our state convention in Oklahoma City.  Regardless of who wins the privilege to become the new face of the ODP, they will be met with a tall order to recruit Democratic legislative and state office candidates who have the wherewithal of character, wisdom and resolve to address the litany of problems which beset our state government.  It seems inadequate to even state for the record that the job will not be an easy one.  It is going to be important nonetheless because if nothing changes in terms of budget policy at the State Capitol then what will be needed is a sweeping change of names and faces in the legislature.

The Oklahoma legislature, per its usual, is fast approaching the final days of session and scrambling to assemble a state budget to deliver to the Governor’s desk.  Once again legislators are finding there is far more demand for funding than there is available revenue to cover it.  It is painfully apparent that the results of a core tenet of Conservatism, that being cutting taxes stimulates economic growth, indicate failure and require movement in a different policy direction of the budget crisis is to be remedied.  It is time for everyone to admit that crowing long and loud about the benefits of cutting taxes might make for wonderful campaign sound bites that a decided majority of voters love to hear but in actual practice it simply does not work.  In all seriousness, when local captains of industry ask the state legislature outright to increase the gross production tax from its cut value of 2% back to 7% where it was before the 2014 rollback, I think that speaks louder than anything said by any orthodox economic conservative ideologue.

Oil, gas producers ask Oklahoma Legislature to increase tax

The state budget woes are going to require some drastic measures in order to reverse the revenue shortfall going forward.  The pressure is on the majority leadership in the Oklahoma House and Senate to produce results that include new revenue.  Even the state’s Republican governor has vowed to veto any budget that does not include new revenue.

 The people of Oklahoma are reeling from the results of last year’s revenue failure and subsequent budget crisis.  Around a third of public school districts have had to cut back to four day school weeks and few if any state agencies have escaped having their budgets cut significantly.  Conservative economic interest groups have successfully sold a majority of Oklahoma voters a real bill ‘o goods and many who bought it have had to experience its failure up close and personal.  If our state is to be elevated out of this financial hole then the reality must embraced that cutting taxes as an economic tool does not work.  The policy piece below is nearly a year and a half old but it shows the projected revenue shortfall for the near future under the current tax policy.

The Cost of Tax Cuts in Oklahoma

There will be no magical fixes to the state’s budget crisis.  It is going to require some difficult decision making by those elected to make them.  If any of those elected officials have a problem with making such decisions because they violate their ideology or for whatever other reason then perhaps they should step aside in favor of someone who can.  There has been enough grandstanding and melodrama revolving around bathroom bills, questioning non-Christian citizens how they treat their spouses and inserting extremist language into proposed legislation limiting women’s health choices.  Making the tough choices in Oklahoma involves decisions that are not going to be popular as there will always be winners and losers.  It is advisable that those in position to make the call suck it up and do the right thing by their constituents.  After all, this is what they signed on to do.  There are many in the legislature who are natural born overachievers.  Now is the time to dazzle everyone with brilliance and show off what you can do when your back is against the wall.  It is also advisable to be aware of certain fundamental truths like insanity defined as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.  To all charged with making that decision please choose wisely and remember,

1 Comment

  1. Carl A.
    May 17, 2017

    I can remember when Oklahoma was considered to be a ‘progressive, forward-looking’ State with a bright economic future…

    That was back before the Republicans took over, of course. If the state’s current economic problems prove anything, it is that it is insane to trust the entire levers of government to a single political party.