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“Small Government” fails Oklahoma

March 2, 2014

In Oklahoma City a battle is looming to cut the states income tax. At a time when government is already facing a shortfall of tax income estimated at 188 MILLION Dollars (by the Oklahoma State Board of Equalization for Fiscal Year 2015) this disparity should be a conservative’s moral dilemma. If Governor Fallin’s tax reduction from 5.25 percent to 5 percent is approved by the legislature, even with her reduced budget, the shortage will remain in the neighborhood of 51 MILLION Dollars.
The massive cuts to state services last year will be further expanded by the 137 MILLION Dollars in allocated cuts within her new budget. The further inroads on individual state agencies’ budgets will not only cut personnel and services but also be extremely detrimental to the safety and welfare of the citizens of Oklahoma.
In a state where individual freedoms are held sacrosanct with a minimalist attitude
toward government, the new budget fits well. What the current governor and legislators fail to accept is that there are areas in our society that require more than local support.
This lack of oversight by fully staffed agencies, or regulations to control deficiencies, -caused by the “small, non-existent government is why Oklahoma (among the 50 states) ranks 48th and 49th in education and health care. Additional budget cuts bring Oklahoma ever closer to safety problems with roads and bridges. One only has to study the recently released report by the American Society of Civil Engineers in concert with the Structural Engineering Institute to realize the deficiencies in the construction of the Moore, Oklahoma schools destroyed by tornados in 2013. Lack of proper construction oversight, for whatever reason, is a blight on state and local governments. The reports are grim reminders of what heartbreaking devastation can occur when lack of oversight results from the ongoing theme “small government”!
The multiple failures at Moore is but one example of the need – not only for a qualified and adequately staffed state agency but – for building codes and administrative laws, with the ability and staff to enforce them.
The 2015 budget as proposed by Governor Fallin, if passed by the legislature, is a return to state funding levels below 2008-2009 levels. Fallin, in her State of the State address bragged about how well Oklahoma has done under her administration. What she did not cover was the overcrowded and understaffed corrections system, a health system in shambles due to both the executive and legislative bodies ignoring the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Cutting across-the-board funding for state agencies will only lead to more serious problems with healthcare and public safety. If copying the states of Kansas and Texas is all that the Republican Party can devise as an attempt to move the state of Oklahoma ahead, it may be time to change direction. Kansas is almost broke with rapidly raising fees on everything and Texas is still digging it’s own budgetary “hole. “
Following another’s ideology is not always a sound investment. “Small government” ideology does NOT create growth. Having very low income tax and miniscule corporate taxes does not bring investment into the state by itself. What does bring investment is an above average public education system, fully funded and implemented health system and up-to-date infrastructure. All three require monetary investments by not only our local governments but the state as well!
To try to foist a budget on the citizens of Oklahoma that is tied to a .25 percent income tax cut while ignoring a massive projected loss of revenues is not managing the state; it shows a lack of financial, social and moral judgment of those elected officials that support this concept.

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