While Republican leadership in the Oklahoma Legislature is not performing as fiscal conservatives, the Democrat leaders are still much worse.
Gov. Mary Fallin, the chambercrats in the Senate and unwitting Republicans in the House were trying like crazy to raise a host of new taxes, the Democrats blocked their efforts because the Democrats wanted an increase in production taxes.
This was crazy because the main complaint from the Democrat leaders was that Oklahoma’s revenue rose and fell mostly because of the ups and downs of the price of oil and natural gas.
The Democrats claimed they wanted to solve the state’s “revenue problem” on the backs of oil and gas producers. But placing more reliance on taxation of energy production would actually cause bigger fluctuations in the future.
Oil is a commodity. Its price is subject to constant change due to market conditions throughout the nation and even throughout the world.
It is not a stable revenue source. But it has been a great boon to the Oklahoma economy for more than a decade. Lawmakers should not to vote to discourage production with confiscatory taxation.
The answer to Oklahoma’s budget woes is controlling spending, not overtaxing citizens or industry.
State government spends too much on low priorities (anti-tobacco ads, school administration, etc.) and too little on high priorities (classroom teacher pay, law enforcement, etc.).
And as State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones has pointed out over and over again, state agencies (particularly public education) lacks oversight and accountability.
This special session has been an expensive failure. The only bright spot is that tax-hungry Democrats and overly pragmatic Republicans have not seriously increase the burden on taxpayers.