Monday, February 24, 2014


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
     Last week, the Oklahoma State Senate Finance Committee voted 8-2 to move forward SB #1246, a bill that would reduce the top marginal individual state income tax rate from 5.25% to 5% starting January 1, 2014.  The proposal would also reduce taxes to 4.85% starting in 2015.  In its fiscal impact statement, the Oklahoma Tax Commission projects the cuts will decrease revenue to state coffers by $53 million in 2015 and up to $172 million in 2016.  Over a three year period, the OTC says the proposed cut would allow Oklahoma taxpayers to keep $238 million of their hard earned dollars that otherwise would have gone to state government.
     But the devil is in the details.  According to some sources, not ALL Oklahomans will be getting a tax cut- some will actually see their state income tax bill increase.  There are some deductions that will be eliminated, increasing some citizen’s tax liability.  Lawmakers are calling that portion of the bill ‘reform.’  The next stop for the bill is the Senate floor.
“This is a common sense reform that will bring us into line with what other states are doing,” Senator Kyle Loveless, (R-Moore), the bill’s author, said. “By combining this reform with a tax reduction, we’re taking a prudent approach that will help our citizens and create jobs while still remaining sensitive to the current budget dynamics we’re facing.” Three thoughts about the income tax reduction proposal.
     First, Oklahoma state government can be leaner.  According to the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services, from 2003 to 2013, total Oklahoma state government spending has increased by $6.37 billion, or 59.75 percent. That rate of growth substantially outpaced inflation, population growth and personal income growth in the state during the same period.  State collected tax revenue is up over 62% during that same period.  How can state government, under Republican control, spend more than liberal Democrats did?  Disappointing!
     Second, there is no doubt Oklahoma government should be leaner.  The real problem is finding the waste.  Conservative lawmakers appear to lack the political will to take on bureaucrats and state agency heads when it comes to their budgets.  The first step would be to simply require them to start from zero in their budget requests.  Agency heads should be justifying every dime they request from the taxpayers.  Third, the legislature needs to give the State Auditor the statutory authority to perform comprehensive performance audits on every agency that gets a penny of state taxpayer money.  And finally, they need to have the courage act on the findings.  That’s where the ‘political will’ part comes to play.  Fat is fat even when it’s in your district.   They need to cut the fat.  Elected officials have to start thinking about the next generation, not the next election if they want to get Oklahoma’s fiscal house in order long-term.
     Third, Oklahoma taxpayers should keep more of their money.  While flawed, this tax cut proposal should be passed and signed into law.  Oklahoma taxpayers need the relief.  According to, Oklahoma ranks #40 in the U.S. in overall per capita tax burden.  While that doesn’t sound too bad, you must remember Oklahoma ranks #43 in per capita income nationally. We are a poor state and while we’re doing better than we have in the past, we are still underpaid and overtaxed.  It’s time to let Oklahoma taxpayers keep more of their money.  After all, it is THEIR MONEY.
     Critics of the state income tax cut will say that state government needs the money for public schools, roads, bridges, law enforcement, etc.  They will moan and cry that any tax cuts will hurt the children and that cuts are the work of heartless, selfish people who don’t care about the ‘little guy.’  But who among us believes the state government budget should have ballooned nearly 60% in the past ten years, while during that same period the average salary in the U.S. only increased half that amount? 
     Fiscal responsibility is not just a great campaign position statement that looks good on a push card- it’s great policy.  Sadly, many Republicans in Oklahoma haven’t practiced it as much as they have preached it.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

     Last week, the Oklahoma Senate passed the National Popular Vote bill by a vote of 28-18.  All eighteen (18) Senators who voted against the bill were Republican, but 16(sixteen) of their fellow Republican Senators voted for the bill.  That’s right- I said 16 Rs voted for the National Popular Vote.  If this proposal would have been law in 2000, Al Gore would have been elected.   
     I have written extensively about the dangers of moving to a popular vote to elect the President, so I will not repeat myself.  If you want to see those editorials, go to my blog- and search National Popular Vote. 
     What is so disappointing about last week’s vote is that none of the leadership of the State Republican Party was asked their opinion on NPV by Senate leadership.  Few, if any, local political activists in the state were asked their opinion on the NPV. The very folks that got these elected officials elected.  The engaged and informed were not consulted.  In a poll conducted last week by the OKGOP, over 75% of Republican primary voters oppose the National Popular Vote.  Why wasn’t the grassroots consulted?  Why did this bill get fast tracked in the Senate?
     I have some questions for those Republican Senators who voted for the bill.
     First, did you know the Republican platform- both state and national- have planks in them opposing the election of president by popular vote?  Did you bother to research and find out what the official Party position was on NPV?  If you did and disagree with the platform, why do you disagree?  Did you talk with the State Party Chair or the RNC members?  The reason the RNC and OKGOP oppose NPV is because how we elect the president defines what type of government we have- a Republic.  The NPV will move America to a European model.
     Second, what influenced you to vote for the bill?  Was it because you mistakenly believe Oklahoma is irrelevant in the presidential election process?  That is hogwash.  Every Republican candidate for President campaigned in Oklahoma in 2012.  If you think this proposal will give Oklahoma more influence, you’re wrong there as well.  It will dilute Oklahoma’s influence and move the decision making to ten (10) major metropolitan areas (which are predominately liberal) in the country.   
     Third, did you consider states rights?  The heart of this debate goes back to our system of government.  This proposal moves us closer to federalism- to reducing state’s rights and making the federal government larger and more powerful.   
     The bill- SB#906- authored by Senator Rob Johnson, (R-Kingfisher), and Representative Don Armes, (R-Faxon) now moves to the House.  Please call your state representative and tell them to oppose passage of this bill. To find your state representative, go to 
     Now I want to turn to another subject- one this vote revealed.  Oklahoma has a weakness in our system of government. 
     A number of the Senators who voted for the proposal are term-limited, meaning they are in their last term.  They will not face the voters in Oklahoma again-unless they run for another office.  Currently the only recourse Oklahoma citizens have to get wayward elected officials attention is at the ballot box.  I think it is perhaps time for Oklahoma initiative a Recall process.
     A recall election is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before their term has ended.  Nineteen states have recall in some form or fashion.  We do not have it in Oklahoma.  In Oklahoma, state legislators can serve twelve years and statewide elected officials eight years.  Without recall, a term limited lame duck elected official in Oklahoma- legislator or statewide- who does something their constituents are upset about has zero accountability to the citizens because they will never be on the ballot again.  But with recall, they could be called into account and have to face the voters.  To get Recall on the ballot in the state will likely require an initiative petition.  It’s highly unlikely the legislature will pass a JR and let the folks vote on it and to be honest it’s an uphill battle if citizens do it.  155,000 signatures are needed to get Recall on the ballot, but I think it’s time for Oklahoma to have recall!  When lobbyists and out of state special interest groups can come in and influence our elected officials more than the people who got them elected, we need to have the ability to call them into account.  Currently we are stuck with them until they complete their term.  Now we only need 154,999 more signatures to get it on the ballot.

Monday, February 10, 2014

What is your Worldview?

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

     Whether we realize it or not, each of us has a worldview—that is, a basic set of assumptions about the world and human existence that forms the bedrock of our values, goals and priorities.  There are basically two worldviews; one is non-theistic and the other theistic.  That means one believes man is created in God’s image and the other believes man is just here for the party-that he needs to get all out of this life he can by whatever means he can. There are various subsets within each view, but ultimately you either believe God is in control of this world or you don’t. 
     Our worldview influences how we view government and politics.  If you believe that man is born with a sin nature and that he is depraved, you understand that no matter how many government programs and well meaning bills are passed, we will still have poor people and violence in our society.  A person with a theistic worldview understands the problem is the heart of man, not in his environment. 
     Those with a non-theistic worldview are obsessed with changing the environment and circumstances of people’s lives.  They believe by doing that, they will pull people from the dark side and make them productive citizens.  They support more education, better health care, less guns, and more food.  They believe those who have money should share it and therefore they legislate to ‘redistribute’ the wealth to insure everyone’s environment is a nurturing one.   They promote education as the only way out of poverty.  As John Piper says, “educating a crook without a change in the heart of the crook only makes a more educated crook.”  
   There are many in both parties who take the non-theistic worldview.  They look at man’s plight as his environment or circumstances and reject that man’s heart is sinful.  That’s why they blame guns for violence, not the shooter.  They blame society for the thief, not the thief.  Worldview is important in politics.
     For example, you have heard people say, “I can’t bring myself to vote for the lesser of two evils.”  The truth is those with a theistic worldwide understand that until Jesus Christ is on the ballot, you are always voting for the lesser of two evils. 
     The very need for human government is based on the fact that man has an inherent sin nature.  James Madison, the father of the Constitution, understood that when he said, "It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."
      In Romans 13, Paul writes that government leaders are ‘ministers of God.”  What Paul was saying was that God is in control.  No person in leadership got there without God allowing it.  Whether you believe that or not, it’s still true.  God controls everything.  So what is an American Christian to do?  Retreat, isolate them selves and ignore what is happening in their government?  Become a political activist and work to change the environment/circumstances by electing more ‘conservatives?”  Abandon their pulpit for a political stump and ‘claim America for Christ?’  All of those things are happening in America among Christians, and most those doing them have pure motives, but it doesn’t seem to be changing our government.  What should we do? 
     The first thing Christians should do is pray.   America certainly doesn’t deserve God’s grace and mercy, but she needs it.  In the last 40 years, America has aborted over 55 million babies.  We have embraced same sex marriage.  We have outlawed prayer in the public school and in the community square.  The breakdown of the American family and the moral decay of our society is a symptom of the real problem- the heart of man.  Until our leaders understand this fundamental truth, they are only treating the symptoms and not the disease. 
     The second thing American Christians should do is pay attention to their government.  Only about 60% of the population eligible to vote EVER vote and a large percentage of Christian voters don’t pay attention to what is going on in their government.  At the very least a voter should be informed and knowledgeable before they cast a ballot. 
     How a leader views the heart of man frames the debate for solutions in America.  This is a fundamental, basic truth.  What is your worldview?

Friday, February 7, 2014



I would encourage you to listen to this sermon delivered by Jeremy Fair, Senior Pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church in Tulsa.  It is 36 minutes long and has great insight into what is wrong with America- with any country for that matter.  Here is the link to the audio:  Here is a link to the video:


Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

    This week the Oklahoma legislature began their 2014 session.  On Monday, Governor Mary Fallin delivered her fourth State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature.  Fallin outlined several points in her address:
     Fallin proposed that Oklahomans have the opportunity to vote in November on a proposal to allow school districts to pursue a one-time increase in bonding capacity to fund upgrades like storm shelters and school security.  “Oklahoma has approximately 1800 schools, each built differently, each with its own unique needs. This measure preserves local control, allowing each school district and community to make their own decisions about how to address those needs,”  Fallin said.  This is a great idea.  Proposals to float a statewide bond issue to put storm shelters in every school in the state doesn’t take into account the needs of each individual district. 
      Fallin also proposed a $50 million increase in public school education funding.  “Improving the quality and outcomes in education is the single most important thing we can do to attract and retain jobs, alleviate poverty, and help Oklahomans have fulfilling and productive lives,” the Governor said.  This is a rather small increase, but state leaders and educators need to come up with solutions at improving education other than just increasing funding. 
     Fallin said her budget for this year includes a budget with up to a five(5) percent cut in state agency funding.  “When I was a single mother, I had to take care of my children while cutting a whole lot more than 5 percent from my family budget. I know most Oklahomans have had to make the same kind of tough budgeting choices at times, and we manage,” Fallin said.  Fallin said the overall state budget she proposes will be one percent less than last year.  She said state agencies needed to operate more efficiently and effectively to cut waste.  A one percent decrease in a state budget is better than a increase, but Oklahoma state government needs to undergo a complete and through efficiency audit process to find out where tax dollars are being wasted.  It’s time state leaders got serious about finding fraud and waste in our state government. 
     Fallin said that state government must be more transparent and accountable in budgeting.  She mentioned that Oklahoma state government has over $800 million in ‘revolving accounts.”  The funds in those accounts are carried over and Fallin said agencies can support critical programs by tapping those funds.  I applaud the Governor for exposing these accounts.  When state agency heads are carrying over more than what they are getting from the legislature in appropriations annually, perhaps they need to forego funding for a year. 
     Fallin said she wanted the state to float a bond to repair the state Capitol building.  “A bond issue could not come at a better time. Interest rates are low. Most importantly, 41 percent of the state’s bond indebtedness will come off the books in 2018, and over 86 percent will be eliminated in the next 13 years, Fallin said.   Borrowing money is never a good idea, particularly when it puts our kids and grandkids in debt.  If state agencies have the money in their ‘revolving accounts,’  maybe the legislature and state leaders need to rent the movie, “Dave,” and watch the scene where he carves out funding for a worthy cause in a public meeting. 
     Fallin also addressed the underfunded state pension plans.  “Moving to a defined contribution model helps us to modernize and accomplishes two important goals.  First, it allows flexibility for future public employees to take the money they have accrued with them if they change careers. Second, it stabilizes the system for current public employees and retirees. Oklahoma pension systems currently have $11 billion in unfunded liabilities. The system as it stands today is not financially sound or sustainable,”  Fallin said.   I agree new employees shouldn’t be forced into a system that is unsteady, and moving to a defined contribution program makes sense, but those changes don’t really address the $11 billion debt.  Will state government float bonds for that?  Will the legislature commit to an annual appropriation to fix the pension plans- which would be substantial amount each year?  Remember, past legislatures- under Democrat control- failed to fund the plans as promised and that is what got us in this mess.  The pension issue may be the most important one the legislature will take up in the 2014 session.
     Stay tuned- legislative sessions are always a great spectator sport.  As Will Rogers said, “When the Oklahoma legislature is in session, neither man nor beast nor property is safe.”