Weekly Review by Senator Joseph Silk
As most of you are aware, the Governor has called the legislature into a special session that is scheduled for this last week of September. As I wrote about a couple weeks ago, the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Cigarette Cessation Fee left the state with few options to make the budget right. So now the legislature will convene to rework the budget, for the remainder of the year.
Regarding the budget and the state’s fiscal issues, there are essentially three groups or types of legislators at the Capitol and they are already beginning to vocalize their opinions and push their agendas on how to conduct special session. The groups are as follows:
1. Tax Everyone and Everything Group: The issue with these types of legislators is that they are totally out of touch with the everyday Oklahoman who wants to keep his or her hard earned money and wants the government to be limited to certain areas such as public safety, roads, and education. During special session this group of legislators will want to raise the gas tax, raise income tax, etc, in order to pump more money into agencies without every taking a good hard look at the agencies fiscal practices.
2. Broaden the Base and Increase the Tax Group: Usually broadening the base of the tax burden is a good thing; however, this group of lawmakers wants to increase revenue to grow government by removing certain tax exemptions that common folks use as well as increase taxes that most Oklahomans pay. The problem is, they typically don’t want to look at items like how much the state is paying to the wind industry, or the oil gas industry, and they usually don’t want to look at government waste.
3. Fiscally Responsible, Conservative Group: This is the group whose ideology I agree with. These legislators, including myself, want to first look at government waste and what agencies are abusing tax dollars. Also, we want a very fair tax policy that has the everyday Oklahoman in mind and promotes economic growth. For example, the wind industry and the oil gas companies should be paying more in taxes to be fair and we need to get rid of some of their sales tax exemptions. Furthermore, the tax burden needs to be spread across all citizens of Oklahoma, not just those who work hard to provide an income for their families.
So as you can see, there are such vast differences in opinions and government ideologies and it is very difficult and slow to get things done at the Capitol. We will see what happens, but rest assured that I will be voicing a strong opinion for the values and people of southeastern Oklahoma. As always, feel free to contact me anytime!
In God We Trust,
Senator Joseph W. Silk
Oklahoma State Senate District 5
405-521-5614 Capitol Office