A conservative view of national, state and local politics by Steve Fair
Monday, April 23, 2012
Where is the Waste
Weekly Opinion Editorial
WHERE IS THE WASTE?
by Steve Fair
In a recent poll conducted by SoonerPoll, Oklahoma
voters were asked if they were in favor of eliminating tax credits to offset a
decrease in the state income tax. Fifty
two percent were in favor with twenty four percent undecided. A follow up question asked voters if they
were in favor of phasing out the state income tax over a ten year period. Fifty one percent were in favor with twenty
percent undecided. Just fifty one
percent of Oklahomans wanted to eliminate the state income tax? Why wouldn’t everyone be in favor of not
paying a tax?
The primary reason is because the average
citizen in Oklahoma
doesn’t trust government. They have been
lied to before, so they are skeptical when government says they are going to
cut out a large revenue stream without a plan to cut on the other side of the
ledger. The state income tax currently represents
twenty seven percent of the state’s revenue.
Republicans believe the uplift from
putting more money back into taxpayers pockets will keep the revenue stream
steady and make cuts unnecessary. The
theory, known as supply side economics, worked under Reagan. Taxes were cut and government revenue went
up. As Reagan said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” That may be the case, but Oklahoma government needs to get right sized and this is the perfect opportunity to do it.
legislative Democrats don’t want to eliminate the income tax because they don’t
believe in smaller government. Liberals
never want to give back any money to taxpayers and are willing to use scare
tactics to prove their point. In an
interview with The Oklahoman, House Minority Leader Scott Inman, (D-Del City)
convinced that when the income tax is eliminated in Oklahoma, those monies that
were once used for roads and bridges and education won't be there from the
general revenue fund. The counties in
order to fund their schools and roads will have to increase property taxes to
make up the difference. An income-tax cut at the state level will invariably
lead to a property tax increase at the county level.” Inman
has no evidence that property tax increases would be the mechanism government
would go to if elimination of the income tax created a shortfall. In fact, the Oklahoma constitution prohibits a ‘statewide’
property tax. Who knows what state government
would do to make up a revenue shortfall.
As Yogi Berra said, “It's tough to make predictions, especially
about the future.”
Elimination of the state income tax
is a bold move. But at the same time we
eliminate, we should work to get Oklahoma
government growth under control. In the recent
past, when faced with a budget shortfall, the legislature has simply made
across the board cuts at state agencies.
That’s unfair to state agencies who run their operations efficiently and
rewards agencies who are wasteful. “One
size fits all,” is not a sound strategy in a budget.
agencies should have to justify every single penny they get each year from the
taxpayer. Zero based budgeting should be implemented. Zero based budgeting is an approach to
planning and decision-making which reverses the working process of traditional
budgeting. In traditional incremental budgeting, agency heads justify only
variances versus past years, based on the assumption that the
"baseline" is automatically approved. By contrast, in zero-based
budgeting, every line item of the budget must be approved, rather than only
changes.. Zero based budgeting would help the
legislature to identity waste.
Another way to identify fraud, waste, and
duplication in state government is by empowering the State Auditor to conduct performance audits. Performance
audits refer to an examination of an agency that accesses whether the entity is
achieving economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the employment of available
resources. In other words, a performance
audit doesn’t just make sure the books balance, but evaluates if tax dollars
were spent in a proper way. A bill to
amend the state constitution to authorize the State Auditor to do performance
audits failed to make it to the floor for a vote this session. It makes you question the legislature’s
resolve on finding waste if they will not authorize the duly elected State
Auditor to do performance audits.
The Oklahoma legislature is currently
considering several versions of bills that would phase out the state income
tax. In this final month of session, you
will hear a lot about these bills and how important they are to Oklahoma’s future. Elimination of the income tax should be
balanced with the rightsizing of Oklahoma
government and the first place to start is identifying waste.
FAIR- because that's my name and BIASED because the truth is we are all biased-either for something or against it. What's important is that our bias(opinions) are based on right- on absolute truth and not on changing values. What's right cannot change based on a change in circumstances. That is the basis for situational ethics.
Situation Ethics is a theory that is concerned with the outcome or consequences of an action; the end, as opposed to an action being intrinsically wrong. In the case of situation ethics, the end can justify the means. There are no absolutes. Your actions are guided only by your conscience.
A person's view of right can be subjective. But there is a way mankind can definitely know what's right and that is revealed in God's Word- the Bible. As His creatures, we should be biased toward things our Creator is for and biased against those things He is against. May God grant us the grace and understanding to know the difference.
PARTY AFFILIATION IS IMPORTANT! by Steve Fair- written in 2009
How important is political party affiliation? Some people mistakenly believe only politicians need political affiliation, which they use for support to get elected. They contend the electorate or voters, do not need to be aligned with any Party. These same people often state they “support the man, not the Party.” But whether they recognize it or not, they are supporting a party when they “support the man.” Most of the Founding Fathers had a negative view of political parties. In his farewell address to the nation, George Washington warned about political parties saying, “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” In spite of Washington's warning, political parties were formed anyway. From 1796 to 1828 the first political parties were formed. Starting with the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, two opposing factions arose. Each was concerned with how the new government was to be organized. The Federalists believed in a strong central government. Their philosophy and beliefs would closely mirror the Democrat Party today. The Anti-Federalists strongly supported the rights of the states. They would more closely align with Republicans today. Since the mid 1800s, the Ds and Rs have been the two major political parties in our country. Political parties flourished in our government mainly for legislative organization and expediencies sake. Why is Party affiliation important for the average voter? Party affiliation is important for three very simples reasons. First, party affiliation is the first vote a citizen casts. When a citizen registers as a Democrat, then they are aligning philosophically with the values, beliefs, tenets, and positions of the Democrats on the issues. Party affiliation “defines” you are and what you stand for. It should be taken as seriously as a vote for a specific candidate. Research what each Party stands for, their positions on issues, and then align with the Party that is closest to your values. Copies of both major Party platforms are available on-line or at the local library. Second, legislatures organize themselves and conduct business using party affiliation. The legislative branch of government is the most powerful arm of the three branches of government. Legislative bodies hold closed meeting of party members, called a caucus to decide on questions of policy or leadership. The Republicans hold a caucus meeting and the Democrats hold a caucus meeting-both at the state and federal level. Unfortunately, conservative, moderate and liberal philosophies do not hold caucus meetings or control the legislative agendas- parties do. When someone says they vote for “the man,” not the party, they fail to understand the power and function of a caucus system in a legislative body. The Party in the majority controls appointments, Chairmanships, the agenda and countless other things through the caucus. Third, party affiliation should be a matter of conviction, not convenience. Often, people align with a party so they can vote in primary elections or based on family tradition or geographies. Even candidates will align, file and run affiliated with a Party they have little philosophical agreement with. That decision is made out of convenience, not conviction. While no political party is perfect or has all the answers, there is a distinct difference between the two major parties and honest citizens should align with the Party that reflects their convictions. The Democrat Party is more liberal than the Republican Party. Liberals believe in more government control of business, the environment and speech, using large bureaucratic programs to address real or perceived social ills and constant reinterpretation of the Constitution. Liberals are more inclined to trust government than the people themselves. They see the role of government as a great provider of goods and services and have little faith in the individual to solve his own problems. Republicans are more conservative than Democrats. Conservatives believe in less government control of the environment and business. They want fewer and less comprehensive government programs to address real or perceived social ills. They believe in personal responsibility and trust individuals to make decisions for themselves. Republicans believe in a strict literal interpretation of the Constitution. A person should find out which of these philosophies best fits their view if they wish to actively participate in the political process. Party affiliation is important. Washington’s prophecy has come to past, and political parties have been used to empower “unprincipled men,” on both sides of the aisle, but like it or not, political parties are a reality in our system of government. Each concerned citizen should evaluate the philosophy, values, beliefs and tenets of each Party and align their party affiliation accordingly.
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