Because of the failure of the leadership of the Oklahoma Legislature, with the cooperation of the office of governor, we are now facing having to fund a special session, called by the governor and convened on September 25. This is necessary because the Legislature did not follow the State Constitution, which the members should know requires that tax bills be passed at least five days before the required adjournment on the last day of May each year.
In addition, it passed a “tobacco fee” which the Supreme Court overruled, properly in my opinion, and declared it a “tax” and therefore passed in violation of that provision. Really, it seems to me that those in the leadership have chosen to follow the path set by Congress and presidents in simply ignoring the requirements set forth in the law of the land.
If any of us would choose to so ignore any of the laws, we would probably find ourselves in jail with hefty fines added for good measure. Yet those elected to office, particularly the leadership, simply choose to delay action on necessary to enact bills until the last minute so as to rush them through, even late at night. Facing a $215 million shortfall, they now will spend, it is estimated, $30,000 per day to have the special session to correct things. There is an old adage in my mind, which goes, “If you can’t do it right the first time, how can you afford to do it a second time?” The “swamp” in Oklahoma City chooses to give many tax advantages to big business to hopefully bring them here and make it up by adding tax after tax onto the small-to-medium businesses and individuals here. Then they seem to not care when the more affluent choose to leave for lower taxed states.
A good example is the City of Tulsa. Once properly labeling itself, “The Oil Capitol of the World,” most of the more successful companies have left the city and state. Although a “displaced Okie” at the time, my memory is quite clear that a major production company, Amoco Production, moved it’s headquarters from Tulsa to Chicago where the home office of the parent company was located. The president, Mr. Randy Yost, publically stated that he did not want to leave but that Oklahoma “was not business friendly” and the statement was in the newspaper (which came to me by mail). This became even more close to me when I returned to live here. His predecessor was my then-father-in-law (who has passed), and I am still under a consulting contract to that company, although not being used.
Now various added tax proposals have been put forth to make up the budget shortfall plus the added special session costs. Further insulting we citizens, there has been no apparent effort to discover and take action to end excessive waste in the state government. Several instances of excessive waste have come to my attention since 1986, when I became involved in our politics, but nothing seems to be even attempted. It is as if their mental makeup is that the tax sources are a bottomless pit of added funds waiting to be grabbed.
An email from OCPA, a think tank, appeared on my screen dated September 15 that listed 11 or 12 corporate welfare items that could be ended resulting in savings of $323.97 million. I would expect that every member of the Legislature, normally 149, and the governor also received it. Truly it will be a miracle if even one of these is even brought up for consideration. Of course, there is a multitude of paid lobbyists with plenty of money to provide “gifts” to sway the votes of the less dedicated members.
Unfortunately, space allowed is not sufficient to list all of them, or even to explain a few. But with the total shown exceeding the shortfall by over $100 million, it seems that they could end the wasteful and, from my point of view, disgustingly big corporate welfare ones and keep them stopped. Several appear to be no more than bribes in attempts to attract new business, often to compete with existing ones. In particular would be the benefits to the wind-generating business that will be sending the power out of state without any sales tax being paid. These, of course, were given federal incentives to develop in the first place by the EPA in its misdirected attack on fossil fuels and its search to remove carbon dioxide from the air to end the falsely labeled man-made global warming.
It should be remembered that if that colorless, odorless gas were completely removed, all plant life would die, followed by all animal and human life, because plants take in CO2 for the carbon and expel the O2 which we breath to live. We must expend the effort to hold their feet to the fire and get some relief.