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  • Group photo of Leadership LeFlore County class of 2018

    Sign up for Leadership…

    Press release

    (POTEAU, OKLAHOMA) – Leadership LeFlore County is taking applications for the 12th annual leadership…

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  • Pistols and Pearls

    Valentine’s Day Dinner

    Press release by Gail Caddell, Talihina Economic Development Initiative

    The Talihina Chamber of Commerce and…

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  • HWH Group Locating Salem…

    Press release

    Governor Mary Fallin Commends HWH Group for Locating Salem Tube Headquarters in Southeast Oklahoma

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  • T-Town Vape

    Shop T-Town Vape, located at 404 Dallas Street in Downtown Talihina, for unique gifts this Christmas.

    They sell a…

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  • Members of the Poteau Chamber Commerce and community join James White of J-N-S for a ribbon cutting

    J-N-S Janitorial Joins Poteau…

    The Poteau Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce J-N-S Janitorial Service as new member of the Chamber.

    If you…

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  • Chamber Welcomes Premier…

    Poteau Chamber of Commerce Welcomed a new Business to the Poteau Area.

    Premier Primary Care.

    Friends and Staff joined…

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  • Local Bank Honors Veterans

    By Britney Hambright, The Community State Bank -Spiro Branch

    On Friday, November 9, 2018, The Community State Bank…

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  • Governor Mary Fallin reads from a plaque she presented Friday to Eric DeMarco, president and chief executive officer of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the company's new 100,000-square-foot unmanned aircraft production facility in the Will Rogers Business Park in Oklahoma City.

    Kratos Defense & Security…

    Press release

    Governor Mary Fallin Helps Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Cut Ribbon on its New 100,000-Square-Foot…

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  • .  Great vendors were at this years fall festival.

    30th Talihina Fall Festival…

    By Vera Nelson, Talihina Chamber of Commerce

    This year’s Talihina Fall Foliage Festival was a great success. There…

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  • The Rock Island Plow building in Oklahoma City, site of Rural Sourcing's software development center. (PHOTO BY TIM SOAR PHOTOGRAPHY)

    Governor Mary Fallin Welcomes…

    Press release

    OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Mary Fallin today welcomed the announcement by Rural Sourcing, the leading…

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  • Haunting Good Time at Strike…

    If you are looking for something “Haunting do this Halloween Season, then check out Strike A Lot Lanes in Poteau. They…

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  • Chamber Welcomes McKimmey…

    The Poteau Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce McKimmey Marketing and Productions LLC. as new members to the…

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  • STORE WIDE LIQUIDATION SALE!!

    Poteau, OKLAHOMA - Due to health reasons, the Peppercorn Antiques in downtown Poteau is going out of business.

    The…

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  • Pictures are Heather Baldwin, Shiloh Freeman, LaDonna Burdett, Loren Burdett, Brittany Freeman, Scott Sparks, Chase McDonald and Karen Wages, with the Poteau Chamber.

    Poteau Chamber welcomes L&L…

    The Poteau Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce L & L Fencing and Construction as new members of the Poteau…

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  • Governor Mary Fallin…

    Press release

    Company to work to create high-tech jobs, partnerships with area universities

    OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor…

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Doing What You Can With What You Have Featured

Written by  Monday, 13 November 2017 16:07
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(1 Vote)

By Rep. Rick West

 

The Oklahoma House of Representatives tried once again last week to permanently increase taxes on Oklahomans because of a temporary problem. On Nov. 8, House members ultimately voted down a tax increase that would have supposedly generated nearly $450 million – all in the name of solving a $215 million hole.

 

Over the past few weeks, our state has seen agency heads admit to mishandling millions of dollars. We’ve witnessed government waste and inefficiency first-hand. The Oklahoma State Department of Health lost $31 million because of years of fiscal mismanagement. Leaders at the Department of Tourism have been writing blank checks. And if we had passed tax increases last session, I bet we would have never known about the fraud. Yet here we are again, as lawmakers, trying to approve $450 million worth of taxes. Why? To continue to cover up the corruption and government waste that is occurring within our state? I won’t stand for it.

 

The bill that representatives voted on last week was the same one that has been voted on time and time again, but this time there was the addition of an increase in the gross production tax. That specific increase is one that I am open to discussing, but when it gets thrown in with things like a tobacco tax and a motor fuel tax, I can’t vote yes.

 

I can’t vote yes on tax increases that will hurt our district. Tobacco users could simply drive a couple of miles to Fort Smith and buy their cigarettes there. It would kill our convenience store owners, and I wouldn’t be able to stomach it. Raising taxes on Oklahomans when we know there’s waste in government is just not right, especially when those increased taxes hurt our district.

 

Why would we increase taxes when state government currently has plenty of taxpayer dollars just sitting in funds right now? Oklahoma’s revolving funds have more than $1 billion in them. We have $83 million in unexpected carryover funds from last year. It’s pretty simple: there is money there, and using it wouldn’t increase the tax burden of everyday Oklahomans.

 

We need to protect our seniors. We need to protect our vulnerable communities. Teachers and state employees deserve to make more money. How great would it be to provide teachers and state employees a raise without increasing their taxes? We can do exactly that. I know it because I have seen the waste and inefficiencies within state government. If we could audit agencies, we could finally see the full extent of our financial situation. It’s the smartest step forward this state could take.

 

Going forward, we should fund the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Oklahoma State Health Department, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services. We should fund them using our cash reserves and tapping into our revolving funds. We should buoy these agencies now, and we should audit every agency to find out where $6.9 billion lawmakers appropriated last year is going.

 

Raising taxes will only continue to cover up the shell games, money shuffling and fiscal mismanagement occurring in state agencies. But let’s say lawmakers theoretically did raise the $450 million through tax increases proposed last week – we’d still be $250 million short next session. Whose taxes do we raise then? Who would we go after next? Taxpayers deserve better, and I will continue to fight for a more transparent and efficient budgetary system.

 

Rep. Rick West represents House District 3. He can be reached at 405-557-7413 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Doing What You Can With What You Have - 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 vote
David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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