Sometimes I receive letters from people that “get it.” The following is from Richard Sloan, a former constituent. I want to share this with you:
“Thank you for your service in the Oklahoma Legislature. It is certainly a challenging time requiring action, long-term planning and a commitment to doing what’s right for the future of our state. Please allow me to offer some recommendations:
1. We must construct a meaningful budget that provides adequate funding for state services including education, public safety, health care, prisons and maintenance of infrastructure. To do that we must have more revenue. I encourage you to look at restoring some of the income tax cuts that have been enacted the past several years, return the gross production tax to 7%, use combined corporate reporting, increase the fuel tax, increase the tobacco tax and end the capital gains tax break. If you need to raise the sales tax, do so on “luxury” items and not on essential products and services that place a greater burden on those with low to moderate incomes.
2. It’s time to end the corporate welfare-especially to the fossil fuel industry. They are well established and should not need artificial financial support from the state.
3. The people voted last fall on criminal justice reform. The legislature needs to finish the job.
4. Oklahoma voted last fall to keep church and state separate. We don’t need vouchers sending public money to private schools or the Ten Commandments on public property.
5. Abortion is a federal issue. The legislature should stop wasting time and money considering or passing measures that are going to be unconstitutional.
6. It’s time to accept the increased federal Medicaid benefits, too, especially to save our rural hospitals and expand health care to the poorest among us.
To summarize, we cannot cut our way to prosperity. We must invest in essential services to stimulate growth and development. Well educated, healthy citizens with the services and infrastructure of the future will fuel economic growth. We need state leaders who understand that.
Only in Oklahoma do the people turn down a one cent sales tax resoundingly only to have the legislature contemplate to increase the tax on gasoline by six cents. The leadership doesn’t want the oil companies to pay a fair tax at the well head (gross production tax); instead they want all of the people of Oklahoma who drive to make up the difference.
Remember in 2005 an initiative petition to raise the gasoline tax was approved with 269,000 signatures and then when the state question came up, only 81,000 Oklahomans voted for it, which was 12% of the vote and 88% of Oklahomans were against it. As we get closer to the end of session, it appears we are getting more desperate for solutions.
I think it is ironic that the legislators are being inundated with calls to vote for a cigarette tax, when there is no cigarette tax bill. There was one heard in committee and amended but it never made it to the House floor. If it had passed it was only earmarked for healthcare for one year; and there was no guarantee the legislature wouldn’t reduce appropriations by the same amount, like they have done to education with lottery money. We are still hopeful that a cigarette tax bill will resurface. Our leadership at the capitol is playing politics with our healthcare and education to protect big oil interests.
I was honored to have four of the finest young folks in Oklahoma page for me here at the Capitol this week. Jager Sokolosky, Hayden Marchant, Allison Ballard and my grandson, Codie Renegar, all made their parents, grandparents and their communities proud with their attitude and manners while serving the House of Representatives.
Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.