I reached out to the GOP gubernatorial candidates for their take on the special session (which began yesterday). Here are the answers of the candidates who replied to my inquiry, listed in order of response – Gary Jones, Todd Lamb, and Gary Richardson (UPDATE: Dan Fisher has now responded):
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, September 26, 2017 – Oklahomans for Lamb announced today more than 1,000 individuals have donated to the gubernatorial campaign of Todd Lamb, demonstrating both the breadth and depth of his support. Having in excess of 1,000 individual donors more than a year before the general election is believed to be a record for a first-time candidate for governor, and follows on the heels of Lamb’s record setting second quarter fundraising effort in which he raised over $1.08 million, the most ever in any reporting period by a Republican gubernatorial candidate.
Pro Tem releases Senate GOP budget plan
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz on Monday released the Senate Republicans’ plan to address the $215 million hole in the Fiscal Year 2018 state budget.
“This plan not only addresses the immediate need of $215 million for critical health care agencies that was struck down in court, but it also provides recurring revenue streams to help us address the long-term stability of the budget and prevent further cuts to core government services,” said Schulz, R-Altus.
“Oklahoma Senate Republicans have proven our willingness to address the state’s long-term budget problems by passing a similar revenue package during the regular session. The elements of this plan for special session were fully vetted by the Senate during the regular session, and all received the necessary votes to pass constitutional muster. I’m confident Senate Republicans, if given the chance, again will put Oklahoma’s interests first and will be able to pass this responsible revenue plan that ensures education, public safety, transportation and other core services avoid further cuts.”
Richardson Puts $1 Million of Personal Funds into Governor Race
Tulsa, OK, September 24, 2017 – Gary Richardson announced on Friday that he has put a total of $1 million into his campaign fund for Governor of Oklahoma.
“We’re in it to win it,” said Richardson. “that’s why my wife, Lanna, and I made the decision to put $1 million of our own money into this race.”
Richardson continued, “I refuse to be beholden to the special interest groups that have poured millions into the Governor’s race. The people of Oklahoma are my only special interest group.”
In the special election held in House District 46 today, Democrats once again emerged victorious, snatching another Republican-held seat away and continuing their recent success in special elections. Democrats have lost only one legislative special ele…
The latest in a string of Republicans to resign in disgrace, State Sen. Bryce Marlatt stepped down today after being booked into the Oklahoma County Jail this morning for one felony count of sexual battery. He was released on bond.The charge stems from…
As announced last week, Job Creators Network’s TaxCutsNow bus tour is stopping in Oklahoma City tomorrow [Tuesday]!We have just received word that the bus tour is making an additional stop in Tulsa tomorrow as well! The TaxCutsNow bus will be outs…
From Muskogee County Commissioner Ken Doke (R-Dist. 1):Yesterday marked the dawning of a new day for Muskogee County. For a number of years now, the county has been operating in the red with deficit budgets. In fact, between 2010 and 2015, the county s…
The recent ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court has opened a dangerous can of worms for the Oklahoma taxpayer. By essentially eviscerating Article V, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution, the Court now has given the Legislature free reign to hike taxes on Oklahomans in complete disregard of the will of the people as expressed in passage of SQ 640, which was intended to place strict limits on the increasing of Oklahomans’ tax burden by the Legislature.
Governor Fallin, who plans to issue a call for a special session, began the year by pressing for nearly $2,600,000,000 (2.6 Billion with a B) in new and increased taxes. $1.7B of that would have come by removing the sales tax exemption on services. Armed with this ruling, she may feel emboldened to continue that push for higher taxes. Legislators should resist her, and Oklahomans should flood the State Capitol with calls against raising taxes or fees or removing tax exemptions, or whatever other loophole the Governor and Legislature may try to use to squeeze more money out of taxpayers for the state’s coffers.
Justice Combs said this in his dissent, and I am in full agreement with him:
The aim of the people in adopting State Question 640 must not be thwarted by such parsing of words and definitions. The Legislature must not be allowed to circumvent the requirements of Okla. Const. art. 5, § 33 when the clear principal object and purpose is to raise new revenue.
$10 billion worth of tax exemptions in the Oklahoma tax code are now subject to removal by a bare majority vote, rather than the 3/4ths vote intended by the petitioners and voters who wrote and approved SQ 640 in 1992. Hold on to your wallets, folks, because Governor Fallin and the Legislature will be coming for them.
Former OKGOP National Committeeman Steve Fair wrote this on his blog in response to the ruling:
[W]e need a statute of limitations on removal of exemptions. If a good or service has not been taxed for eighty years, then it should be considered a new tax or fee. […] This was clearly a loophole the legislature was looking for to fill this year’s budget hole.
I think that’s a great idea. Hopefully, some taxpayer-defending legislator will take up the mantle next session and work to advance a measure along these lines.
Oklahomans will need to keep a close eye on the Special Session that will begin on September 25th. Your wallet will be placed on the table by a pack of hungry vultures who have complete disregard for the intent and purpose of Article V, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today issued the following statement on her plans to call a special legislative session for lawmakers to adjust the current fiscal year budget:
“I am planning on calling a special session beginning September 25 for legislators to adjust the current fiscal year budget. A formal call for a special session will be issued in the next few days, but I wanted to announce my intention to call a special session for planning purposes. I also want Oklahomans to know we are working diligently to address the fiscal matters of our state.”
EDITOR’S [Press Office] NOTE: The state’s 2018 fiscal year budget has a shortfall of $215 million as a result of last month’s Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling, which struck down a proposed smoking cessation fee that was estimated to raise that amount. The $215 million represents just state funds. With the loss of matching federal funds state agencies estimate the total is nearly $500 million.
Bill Shapard of SoonerPoll went on KFAQ’s Pat Campbell Show yesterday morning, and mentioned some polling numbers from two surveys they ran in recent days. These figures had not previously been released publicly.GOP Gubernatorial PrimaryTodd Lamb …
As chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, Rep. Leslie Osborn was one of the legislature’s budget negotiators earlier this year. She used that position to make the case for a litany of tax increases, claiming that Oklahomans are “tired of us doing things the way we’ve always done them.” This begs the question: what has the state been doing?
As one of the most conservative states when it comes to election results, some might assume that the Oklahoma legislature continually cuts taxes. In fact, the state ranks 36th in per capita tax collections. A study shows that Oklahoma historically has had an above average tax burden compared to the rest of the nation. While there have been some state tax cuts, Jonathan Small has shown that the legislature has also increased revenue.
Despite changes in tax laws and fluctuations in revenue, what has remained constant year after year has been the increase in state government spending. According to the data from Oklahoma’s most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), state government has increased spending in 22 of the last 23 years. Despite recessions in 2008 and 2015, when many Oklahoma families had to make tough choices, Oklahoma government continued to spend.
During the same interview Leslie Osborn said that “more than ever the message and the meaning is going to matter more.” Message matters, but it is imperative they be not only sincere, but also based on facts. Oklahoma government has been growing, not shrinking. People might question the priorities in the budget or in how agencies spend money, but the total burden on Oklahomans is higher than ever.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court opinion striking down SB 845 states “by strictly limiting the Legislature’s ability to enact laws that generate additional revenue—the people’s preference that when revenues shrink, so too does their government.” This is the people’s will as expressed in the Oklahoma Constitution. Maybe the state should try doing things this way?