That failure is now costing the county and city taxpayers far more than when the state had a more humane way of restoring the seriously ill at a lower cost. There are scores of dead Oklahomans every year because the psychotic are denied public mental health intervention. What few state mental hospitals that we still operate, are perpetually full. We are near a catastrophe in our public health.
A Malignancy Of State
We have a common education system which is crying out for major reforms. But the patient is refusing any tests, consultations, dietary adjustments, or therapeutic treatment. She just wants more money! If the legislature does not ascribe a course of corrective action, there will not be a way to survive the cancer that is eating away most of our state budget. I refer to it as a cancer because of how it eats the healthy cells of our figurative state body. Here's an analogy; the human body needs healthy lungs; but when the lung tissue weighs more than the rest of the body's organs combined, you have a malignancy which can kill you. If the state constitutional convention of 1906 had envisioned the possibility of education costing the state over half of it's appropriated wealth each year, they would have created constitutional safeguards against such a malignancy.
Roads We Can Pay For
Infrastructure is a perpetual expense. But the state must see the Turnpike Authority as another layer of government which is milking the state dry before they can even write a check to the Tax Commission. The very existence of such 'authorities' is an admission of failure of state government. All of these authorities and ventures into commerce need to be phased out. If the state can't produce the necessary transportation network, we have a fundamental problem that we cannot kick down the road.
Oklahoma is over 100 years old. We no longer have any justification for priming any pumps. Our recreation industry is harmed by the existence of state-run lodges. Our utility providers should be competing at market-set pricing. Whether we keep the Grand River Dam utility or not, it still needs to be pricing it's product (electricity) at market rates. Otherwise we are effectively punishing the parts of the state that are paying for power at market rates.
Tourism agencies are yet another form of corporate welfare. Their functions can and should be run by private sector associations. It is not the duty of the local factory worker, to let the state confiscate his tax dollars for the benefit of the entertainment ventures in our state.
The Oil Taxes
As long as we are collecting property taxes, it is justifiable to also tax the natural resource holdings in the energy industry. The insanity of taxing our established energy producers at 7%, while taxing the newcomers at 2%, is an insult to our own people. If our aggregate oil tax is 3.1%, then it's proper to tax all produced oil at 3.1% and be done with it. Now if you want to raise that one-time "property tax", You can certainly present your case and let it be challenged philosophically, among the halls of the capitol.
Better Education At Lower State Costs
Currently, 70 of our school districts get no state funding. We wish it was 570 of them who were surviving on their own. But most all of us who are over 50 years old will tell you that we had a better education in the 1970s, with classrooms of 30 students. Today we have 1 teacher for about every 16 kids. But even if we had just 21 kids for every teacher (on average), we could pay those teachers $10k more and still save nearly $200 million, statewide. It would attract the nation's best educators and also lead to a lot of pink slips for our bottom 20% of current educators.
In 1992, the major state teachers union heavily lobbied to cut class sizes. That did not lead to better teacher pay, but it led to a far bigger teachers union pay-back. It did not improve education because it just created job security for bad educators. (yes, they do exist in Oklahoma).
Some would say that we don't owe anyone a free education. But I can certainly say that we don't owe anyone a university education.
Opinion of the Editor
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David Van Risseghem is the Director of Sooner Politics.org. The resource is committed to informing & mobilizing conservative Oklahomans for civic reform. This endeavor seeks to utilize the efforts of all cooperative facets of the Conservative movement...