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  • Pictured are Karen Wages, CEO, Poteau Chamber, Nancy Billings, Poteau Chamber, Randy Wiles, Daniel Wiles, Joshua Wiles, Suni Daun Veerkamp, Dee Shelburn and Laura Taylor, Central National

    Poteau Chamber welcomes…

    The Poteau Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the Cruise Planners Travel Agency has new members of the Poteau…

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  • KTC offering some great…

    Check out some of the short-term classes being offered at the Kiamichi Technology Center in Poteau.

    May 30-31,…

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  • EOMC offering New Walk In…

    POTEAU, OKLAHOMA - Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center is proud to announce the opening of their Walk in Clinic located…

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  • TALIHINA CHAMBER - MOTHER’S…

    Press release

    Buy a brick for your mother this Mother’s Day or your father this Father’s Day.

    We are having a sale…
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  • Poteau Chamber provided a Ribbon Cutting to the management team of the Garden Walk Apartments to welcome them as new members

    Garden Walk Apartments joins…

    The Poteau Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the Garden Walk Apartments as their newest members to the…

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  • Poteau Chamber welcomes new…

    The Poteau Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce a new support partner with the community.

    The chamber would…

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  • Poteau Chamber Welcomes…

    POTEAU, OKLAHOMA – The Poteau Chamber of Commerce welcomed Mahindra with a ribbon cutting during their grand opening…

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  • Learn more about KTC with…

    Poteau, Oklahoma - Join Poteau Chamber and Kiamichi Technology Center-Poteau for this month’s Coffee and Conversation.

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  • Governor Mary Fallin congratulates Spirit AeroSystems officials during Wednesday's opening of the aerospace company's center of excellence in McAlester. The center focuses on the fabrication of complex commercial and military aircraft parts.

    Governor Mary Fallin Helps…

    Press release

    McALESTER – Governor Mary Fallin today helped Spirit AeroSystems unveil its second center of excellence…

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  • Poteau Chamber Welcomes New…

    The Poteau Chamber of Commerce is please to announce their Snyder Garden Center as their newest member to the Poteau…

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  • Business Building for lease…

    Building for lease in Poteau

    This 6400 square feet, 80 x 80 building is located at 806 S. Broadway in Poteau.

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  • Jeff Cooper Joins United…

    Press release

    Darali and Jim Mixon, of United Country-Mixon Realty, is proud to announce that Jeff Cooper has joined…

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  • P&K welcomed to community…

    The Poteau Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce P&K Equipment as new members of the Chamber.

    P&K Equipment…

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  • MONTE SHOCKLEY II JOINS…

    Press release

    Darali Mixon, Broker/Owner, of United Country-Mixon Realty, is pleased to announce that Monte Shockley…

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  •  Governor Mary Fallin poses Friday with state, local and tribal officials and executives from Sofidel Group on a hill overlooking the future site of the Italian manufacturer's new, modern integrated plant that will support 300 jobs.

    Groundbreaking Ceremony for…

    Press release

    Governor Mary Fallin Takes Part in Groundbreaking Ceremony for Sofidel Group’s $360 Million New Inola…

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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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