Monday, December 4, 2017


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
     How did Oklahoma state government get so dysfunctional?  Just 4 years ago, Oklahoma was riding high.  The price of oil was $100 a barrel and state government was flush with money.  Now with the price less than half that, state government is struggling to pay the bills.  After one special session failed, to give the Governor the funding she wanted, it appears she may call a second to address the budget shortfall.  Here are some of the theories as to how we got to this point:
     State Question #640:  Some lawmakers and private citizens believe that SQ #640 places too high of a threshold to raise taxes.  It requires any revenue raising bill to pass the legislature with a ¾ majority.  It doesn’t prevent the raising of taxes or fees- it just makes it harder to achieve.  Some lawmakers have vowed to work to repeal it (would require a vote of the people), but  SQ #640 has been a saving grace for Oklahomans through the years.  Before #640, the Democrat controlled legislature raised taxes every year as government continued to grow.  #640 is definitely not the reason we have a dysfunctional state government.
     Legislative Term Limits: Critics of term limits say citizens have always have term limits because elected officials could always be voted out at the ballot box. The fact is 95% of incumbents win.  Opponents of terms limits also maintain we lost the ‘institutional knowledge’ long serving lawmakers had and the bureaucrats would gain power under term limits.  There is some truth to both those theories, but term limits is not the reason we have a dysfunctional state government.
          Price of Oil:  Oklahoma state government is so dependent on gross production tax that when the price of oil declines, so does funding.  There has been ongoing discussion for years to change that, but not the political will to execute it.  But the price of oil is not the reason we have a dysfunctional state government.
     Politics: For years, grassroots Republicans thought that electing a GOP legislature would result in smaller more efficient government, but that hasn’t been the case.  Because of politics, performance audits conducted by the State Auditor have been limited.  There has not been an audit of Higher Education in years and the acceptance of State Agency heads they had ‘cut to the bone’ is not questioned.  Personalities and politics rule the day.  Performance and pursuance are kicked like a can down the road. 
     Politics is the reason we have a dysfunctional state government.  Simply stated, Republicans are electing the wrong people to represent us at 23rd and Lincoln.  Many lawmakers don’t understand the issues when they get there and are then educated by special interests.  When you couple that with the fact the GOP infrastructure is crumbling and grassroots activists at the local level are discouraged and disgusted by the people they worked to elect and you get the current situation.   How do you fix it?    You don’t fix it by quitting- you double down and work twice as hard to get the government you want

1 comment:

Unknown said...

We need to audit public schools who recieve money from the state of Oklahoma, , Oklahoma need to raise the tax on cigarettes and tobacco, and to pas a bill of any measure it should have an approval rating of at least 80 %, and none of this sneeking in legislation at the last minute, that hasnt been fully read and analyzed and studied for long lasting and personal affect and long term damage it could cause to the state, and itf it can cause can cause internal problem and have outstanding consequences on the state in the long ru it should not be allowed to even be put on the ballo....