State Question 640 a Target for Tax & Spend Liberals

Since its passage in 1992, tax & spenders in the Oklahoma legislature have been continually frustrated by the restrictions placed on them by State Question 640 and this year’s special session of the legislature is highlighting that disdain. After the largest tax increase in a century failed to receive the required three-fourths vote for passage, proponents of House Bill 1054X were quick to complain about the three-fourths requirement placed on the legislature by State Question 640.

House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) called SQ640 a “high hurdle.” Yes, and it was intended to be such.

While the House members were on the floor debating HB 1054X I heard one representative actually complain about the three-fourths requirement, saying that it would only be fair if a three-fourths vote was also required to lower taxes. I wish I’d noted which one of our elected sages had the chutzpah to actually say that on the floor of the House.

I noted a column about SQ 640 this morning on NonDoc, a liberal news & opinion site that seems to have become popular with Oklahoma […] → Keep reading

The Oklahoma Legislature May Need You to Start Smoking

A question from David Van Risseghem on his Facebook page got me thinking. He asked, “Hey? Is the impending special session being called to help folks quit smoking? Or just to get more money?”

Very quick background for those who don’t know – During the last Oklahoma legislative session a bill was passed enacting a $1.50 per pack ‘cessation fee.’ Senate Bill 845, the Smoking Cessation and Prevention Act of 2017, was designed to bring in about $215 million into the state coffers. Earlier this week the state Supreme Court ruled the bill violates the Oklahoma Constitution for various reasons that are completely correct but not relevant to the discussion here.

Now the question is what to do about the $215 million in taxes (note – taxes, not ‘fees’) that the state will not be receiving, but was included by the legislature in the 2017-2018 budget appropriations. Conventional wisdom seems to be that the governor will call for a special session of the legislature. I’d say that’s a certainty as soon as the legislative leadership devises a plan to […] → Keep reading

Have I Traveled to a Parallel Universe?

In every movie and television episode I can think of where the protagonist somehow travels to a parallel universe, one of the chief differences is that those who are good and bad have swapped roles. I’m outing myself as a Trekkie here, but the most notable example I can think of is the original Star Trek series episode, Mirror, Mirror, in which Captain Kirk and others accidentally swap universes with their counterparts. Kirk suddenly finds that the Federation is a conquering empire and his ship, the Enterprise, is a battleship sent on a mission of domination and murder.

I haven’t yet worked out the science of it how it happened but I think I may have been transported to a parallel universe.

For weeks now the news from the Oklahoma state capitol building has been proposal after proposal to increase ‘revenues’ by various methods. Let’s pause for a moment here and dispel the euphemism, ‘revenues,’ and call it by its true name, taxes. Anytime you read or hear someone say the word ‘revenues’ just automatically replace it word the word […] → Keep reading

Is Oklahoma a ‘Backwards’ State?

Legislative sessions in Oklahoma are usually rife with contention, last-minute budget deals and unconventional bills and this year has certainly been no exception. With this year’s budget still being a huge question mark, cuts are already happening and many departments have already begun trimming staff. Medicaid, the earned income tax credit and education funding are issues making the news, along with non-budgetary items including abortions and school restrooms. Yes, restrooms.

Put it all together with a few other things and it’s apparently enough that some have labeled Oklahoma a ‘backwards’ state. A national laughingstock. An embarrassment. I have probably seen more negative articles and comments about Oklahoma and our legislature this year than any other. Articles such as the one titled “Oklahoma Continues Marching Backwards Into the 1950’s With New Laws.” One column I saw shared frequently was from Ginnie Graham of the Tulsa World, who said, “Oklahoma sure had one embarrassing week.” It was pretty clear from her column that her politics are liberal and her disdain for the legislature reflected that. She railed not only about the budget […] → Keep reading

Oklahoma Liberals: Bloat Is Good As Long As It’s Our Bloat

One of the more contentious issues in Oklahoma politics has always been funding for education and this year is certainly no exception. And by ‘funding’ I do mean teacher salaries. There seems to be more of a clamor this year for teachers to get raises and even some Republicans have introduced legislation aimed at providing salary increases to teachers without raising taxes. It’s too early in the legislative session to know how those proposals will turn out, but even if they are passed and succeed, it won’t be enough to satisfy those in the education field and their friends in the legislature, the Democrats.

Education funding seems to be a continual battle between the liberals and the conservatives in the legislature, with the liberals always wanting more and more money to go to education and the conservatives knowing that the state can’t afford the level of funding that the liberals want. Back in 2010 the teachers union was successful in getting State Question 744 put on the November ballot, which would have dramatically increased the amount of funding Oklahoma spends […] → Keep reading