There is a saying that goes, “When you find yourself in a hole… the best thing to do is stop digging.”
This would accurately describe the financial budget crisis we face in Oklahoma. Ever since I was first elected in 2010, there has never seemed to be enough revenue to meet expenses. It is so frustrating to live in that reality everyday and all the fallout that comes from an economic downturn. It’s doesn’t have to be that way.
Think about it. Simply put, when Oklahoma families don’t have enough money coming in, they cut back on spending and look at ways to eliminate wasteful spending in their homes. The state would do well to learn this simple lesson when it comes to tax credits, incentives and exemptions we pay out.
Some of these are lucrative giveaways that total in the billions of dollars and come right out of Oklahoma’s operating budget before one dollar is even spent.
It’s called “off the top money ”
Doing a thorough financial analysis of all of these and eliminating those that have no return on investment (ROI) along with placing a moratorium on paying out money when your certified numbers reflect a certain budget shortfall amount would be a great start.
Another thing Oklahoma could do is some real budget analysis based on accurate revenue projections.
Better forecasting needs to be done based on sound financial trending.
I have introduced HB 2245 – “The Appropriations Stabilization Act – which will require 5-year trending moving averages in preparing budgets so we as a state are not overly reliant on a volatile energy sector which has accounted for 25 percent of our revenue. That way we don’t make the tragic error of forecasting $70 a barrel oil as we did several years ago when in tanked into the $35 dollar range.
These reckless policies in the midst of an energy downturn and stagnant agricultural market has hurt all our agencies and continues to cripple our state for years. Sadly, instead of stopping out-of-control incentives, poor budget forecasting and “right sizing” government, the only answer you continue to hear today is “more taxes” – instead of fixing the “structural” problems. We tax those who can afford it the least. There are solutions you just have to have the courage and will to propose them and follow through.
James Dobson said it best: “That if we have the basic understanding that every spending decision is a spiritual decision. Waste is not squandering our own resources – it is a misuse of His.”