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Monday, February 06, 2017

State of the Gorilla State

The Honorable Governor Mary Fallin gave her rousing address to members of the legislature and through media coverage; to the rest of the citizens in the state of Oklahoma.  It should come as no surprise, however, that a lot of people in the state of Oklahoma are already aware of the problems we're facing and that includes what the media likes to call a "budget shortfall."  

The problem with the language being used by the media and by elected officials alike is that the budget in the state of Oklahoma is predicated on revenues.  They are not "short" or "long," they simply are what they are and the legislature is tasked with maintaining government services within those revenue projections.  Just like when citizens find themselves with less income, government has to make a few cuts here and there from previous budgets to make ends meet.

Governor Fallin suggested an increase on fuel taxes and taxes on tobacco, but an elimination of the tax on groceries (good) and an elimination of corporate income tax (bad - see below).  Governor Fallin is sounding more and more like former Governor Henry with each passing day.  Increased taxes…that's supposed to be a Democrat thing.

So, here is a few suggestions from your humble little Gorilla as to revenues and the so-called "state of the state."

The first thing we have to do, in my opinion, is to deal with the elected official infrastructure as it exists right now.  We have some of the highest paid part time legislators in the country and while our teacher pay is at the bottom of the barrel, legislators seem to be doing just fine, don't they?  One way to deal with this is to cut the legislative session in half and in so doing, pay legislators based on the average median income for their respective legislative districts and break that down for the time that they are in session.  For example, if the average median income for a legislative district is $35,000, we take that hourly rate and pay them hourly for the time they are in session.  That alone would save hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.  

The next thing on the list is to cut the tax subsidies for energy companies and for the Oklahoma City Thunder as well.  Currently, the Thunder pay no income tax on salaries as part of an incentive authored by the legislature to lure them here so, it's time for the golden goose to start crapping out some golden eggs.  In addition, wind energy subsidies in the state of Oklahoma are ridiculous and should be eliminated immediately.  Oil and gas company tax incentives should be set aside as well.  Not sexy, I know, but it is common sense and something that is desperately needed in Oklahoma.  

Lastly, absolutely no taxes or fees should be increased until the first suggestions are implemented.  Fees and taxes could be raised in the event that the recipient government entity can provide an audited statement to justify the need for increased fees or taxes.  The State Auditor should be involved in this process to ensure that there is integrity and consistency throughout.

When you have legislators who are trying to undermine the will of the people by fighting against state questions that were voted on and approved by the people of Oklahoma, that should give an indication as to where the problem lies under the methane gas filled dome.  For a lot of these legislators, it is the best job that they will ever have and their thirst for power and hunger for acclaim drive them more than the desire to do what is right by the people of Oklahoma.  

This state needs a legislative enema.  

It's time, friends.  It's time to take a long, hard look at what has been happening and why it has been happening.  We keep electing the same group of people, handled by the same group of consultants with the same talking points and we wonder why there isn't a real shift in the tide.  This isn't an issue of Republican versus Democrat, Liberal versus Conservative; this is an issue of common sense versus lunacy.

The state of the state is as it always has been until we vote for people with a passion for this state and our communities rather than an ego boost and a step on the career ladder.

Of course, I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt it.  

Ron "Gorilla" Black