Last week I wrote a column that was very critical of our Governor Mary Fallin; while I do not want to be accused of beating a dead horse, the issue of the state budget needs to be of concern to every citizen of Oklahoma. In a recent article Governor Fallin threatened to veto any budget that that contains deep cuts to state agencies. At a Capitol news conference surrounded by state employees, heath care providers, agency heads and others, she made the comment that she has had to make some hard votes because the citizens of this state are demanding that no agencies or core services will have devastating cuts. I have noticed that politicians such as Fallin like to surround themselves with doomsday prophets that, for the most part, feed at the public trough. I have also found that making hard choices with someone else’s money is a whole lot easier than making hard choices with one’s own money. Making hard choices is definitely not limited to the government class; I would like to share the kind of hard choices we in the private sector have to make every day.

Republican Businessman Brian Walters Announces for Senate District 45 Seat

South Oklahoma City businessman Brian Walters announced today that he will be a Republican candidate in the special election to fill the vacant Senate District 45 seat.

“Given the financial problems our state government faces, we need people with real-world experience dealing with large-scale financial forecasting and budgeting,” Walters said. “I have an extensive background in financial planning and business development. That quality is glaringly lacking at the Oklahoma Capitol, which is one reason the state keeps generating huge shortfalls year-in and year-out.”

Walters is owner of an estate settlement service company, helping families deal with the challenges of addressing business and estate issues after losing a loved one. Prior to that, Walters was Director of Finance and Administration for a farm equipment company, overseeing more than $100 million in revenue. In that position, he developed analytics and benchmarks for monthly operating results and financial reviews including budgets, revenue and inventory forecasts. Throughout his career, he has been responsible for financial operations at several business organizations.

Facing a shortfall of $878M, legislators have just a few days left to figure out how to deal with it. Friday, May 19th, is the final day that the Oklahoma Legislature can hear and pass any new “revenue raising” (i.e. tax hiking) legislation without goi…

With just over a week until the end of the regular legislative session, some lawmakers have proposed massive tax increases, including a plan to cap personal itemized deductions that would dramatically increase personal income taxes on many Oklahoma families and small businesses.

OCPA released today a budget plan to fill Oklahoma’s $878 million budget gap and give teachers a pay raise—while respecting and protecting Oklahoma families and their own budgets.

The balanced budget plan proposed by OCPA includes more than $1.3 billion in savings—including items from OCPA’s “Freedom Agenda” published in January and “First Steps” list released in February—and $337 million in tax increases, including an increase in the tax on gasoline and diesel, a 67-cent per pack cigarette tax increase, and a wind production tax. Together, the lower spending and increased taxes add up to nearly $1.7 billion.

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Although it passed by a vote of 63 to 34, the $1.50-per-pack cigarette tax hike failed to receive the Constitutionally required 2/3rds vote in the State House this afternoon. 14 Democrats and 20 Republicans voted against the tax hike.

The vote was held open for about an hour, but leadership could not get enough votes for passage. Apparently, Governor Mary Fallin even went to the floor to try and persuade members to vote for the tax increase. She did the same thing last year, begging House Democrats (of all people) to come on board. Due to a procedural move, the measure can be voted on again.

Governor Mary Fallin responded to the vote with this statement:

“I’m disappointed in those legislators who put political games and Washington-like gridlock ahead of the lives of Oklahomans and the core services our citizens expect.

“It’s personal to those of us who have lost loved ones to smoking-related illnesses. It’s personal to teenagers in Oklahoma who would have been saved from lives of tobacco addiction if the bill had passed. It’s personal for citizens who would have received health care from the new revenue.

“I encourage all citizens to contact legislators and urge a yes vote on a smart way to protect the health of our citizens and the health of our state services.”

If Fallin, who started off the year by pushing for nearly 2.6 billion dollars in tax increases, is serious about ending smoking-related illnesses, or stopping tobacco addiction, perhaps she’ll propose banning tobacco products next? I don’t expect her to, because after all, tobacco taxes are a big cash cow. She needs people to still smoke so that their taxes can pay for things.

Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz and the Senate Republican Caucus unveiled their budget plan Monday afternoon at the state Capitol.

Oklahoma Senate Republicans approve responsible state budget plan

The Oklahoma Senate on Monday approved a budget plan that responsibly addresses the FY ‘18 shortfall, holds education agencies, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Human Services harmless, and minimizes cuts to other state agencies.

“The Senate has negotiated patiently all-session long, but it’s time for the budget gimmicks to end,” said President Pro Tem Mike Schulz, R-Altus. “We were elected to lead and guide this state in a responsible manner, and that is precisely what the Senate budget does. Like we’ve said all along, the solution to this year’s budget will come via a combination of cuts to agencies, new revenues, and structural budget reforms and that’s what is included in the Senate budget. The budget reforms approved by the Senate also will put our state on more solid financial footing in the future and lets us end our work on time and avoid a costly special session.”

May 9th, 2017 — Yesterday, the House and Senate Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget passed House Bill 2347, which caps personal itemized deductions effective January 1, 2017. Dr. Tom Coburn has issued the following statement regarding efforts to have the bill approved by the entire legislature and sent to the Governor for approval.

Our Source Post via Muskogee Politico.

Original source via OCPA here.