Letters to the Editor for Winter 2018
More Wasted Money
Two or three times in recent months reports have surfaced from State Treasurer Ken Miller that revenue collections had shown substantial increases over 2016. These led me to question if there was a real need to have the “special sessions” of the Legislature called by Governor Fallin. Special sessions are rather expensive, especially when there is a projected revenue shortfall from the budget approved last year. We have been told that special sessions run a normal cost of about $30,000 per day, but not whether there are added costs to that number, such as travel and per-diem expenses.
Now there has appeared a story of another month, December, where there again was an increase. With increases in all but one month of 2017, receipts have exceeded those of 2016 by $667.6 million. The one month without an increase was not listed, but logic would give the presumption that it would have been January, before the boom engendered by the inauguration of President Trump became a reality. With a previously projected shortfall of $316 million, it would seem that the problem would have solved itself, and so it would not have been necessary to even have had any special session let alone two.
It still confuses me how this state government, which has a constitutional requirement to not operate on a deficit, can continue to spend money like there was no limit, and not seriously seek to cut waste wherever it is found to occur. State Auditor Gary Jones has documented a number of very wasteful situations in Oklahoma governmental operations, as he has stated in some of his speeches attended by me. But, neither chamber of the Legislature seems to be interested in taking action to reduce or eliminate the wasteful, and/or illegal operations and practices, nor does the governor.
On top of that there are those who want to, and do, throw large amounts of money into questionable activities (give away’s or “bribes”) in hopes of “bringing new business here.” It would seem obvious to me that rather than such wasteful practices, the brakes should be put on all such wasteful practices and be able to substantially cut taxes. Another detriment to securing new business activities would be the multitude of onerous and anti-business regulations that exist, many instituted by unelected agency managers.
It would be interesting to see just how many individuals and corporations have moved headquarters out of the state and, if their management would divulge, what actual reasons they used to justify the expense of the move. My memory is still clear that when the decision was made by the parent company to move the headquarters of Amoco Production Company to Chicago, Amoco President Randy Yost publicly stated that he did not want to move there, but simply “Oklahoma is not friendly to business” (as best in my memory).
And now, House Speaker Pro Tempore Wright, (R(INO?)-Weatherford), has submitted a House Resolution that would amend the state Constitution to lower the vote requirement to raise taxes from the present 75% to 60%. It would, of course, require a vote of the people to take effect, but that would just open the door to more taxation and probably more businesses and people deciding to move out and thus lower the tax receipts. Are they mindless down there?
For those currently uninformed the acronym “RINO” stands for “Republican In Name Only” and should be applied to anyone who campaigns on low taxes, with no increases, and economies of operation, in accordance with the Republican Party Platform, and then violates the campaign promises when in office. It is sad, but there are far too many RINOs holding elective office all over the Nation.
Robert W. McDowell, Jr.
Broken Arrow, OK
There is an old saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I have come to believe that it doesn’t make any difference which political party that one belongs to. In the recent special session of the Oklahoma legislature, if it were not for State Question 640, we Oklahomans would have been saddled with the biggest tax increase in state history.
I happen to be very familiar with the events that brought about SQ 640 and the need for it. Before the voters approved SQ 640 the Democrats were in charge of state government, they were the dominant political power since statehood. Like many groups before them, they had established themselves as head of the political class, and they became so self important they didn’t care about the problems and concerns that the average hard working taxpayer had to deal with. The average man was all but forgotten, and if you didn’t belong to some organization or group that had the money to lobby our lawmakers you were SOL. Taxes were passed over the objections of the average man, all the Legislature was concerned with was how much money could be extracted from them.
Finally the average man had enough and we carried petitions to get SQ 640 on the ballot. The Legislature had lost the trust of the people and we said with a loud voice that there would be no new taxes without a vote of the people, and if it became necessary, the Legislature could pass new taxes with a 75% vote. Even after we approved SQ 640 the Legislature was intent on still sticking it to the people by changing the word tax to fee. For years fees have been increased on everything imaginable. Instead of the liberal tax and spend philosophy, we Oklahomans decided to take a conservative path and give the Republican Party control.
I am a registered Republican, but I am a conservative first. I want to make it very clear that there are some great conservatives in the Legislature, but it is a sad fact that even though many may be registered Republican, they are definitely not conservative. For the most part they are no better than the Democrats they replaced. The Republicans have completely squandered their chance to improve our state. Over the past several sessions they have raised fees on everything imaginable, passed an illegal fee on cigarettes, and tried to pass the biggest tax increase in state history. Now some of our so-called conservatives want to lower the 75% number to 60%, while doing next to nothing to audit all government spending. I am not ready for any new taxes until a through audit is done on the money we are already paying. Too many of our Republicans have been infected with the arrogance that absolute power brings.
We the voters are also to blame. We have allowed ourselves to be manipulated with slick marketing campaigns that are, for the most part, paid for by special interest groups with deep pockets. We have elected far too many people who have never run a business or made a payroll and who cannot comprehend what it is to skimp out a living. If we ever need proof that we need SQ 640, just look at the mess our so-called conservative Republicans have made in our state legislature. I urge everyone to stay informed on the attempts to weaken 640. We got it in because of the mistrust of the Democrats, and need to keep it in due to the arrogance of the Republicans.
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