Within the Republican majority, there are several fiscal conservatives who adamantly oppose the raising of any taxes unless and until there are significant reforms and cuts in wasteful agencies, including the governor's own office staffing. In conversations with several fiscal conservatives (both inside the Platform Caucus and other Republican conservatives) I was told that if we don't reform state agencies in this current crisis, then we never will. The money crunch is a result of waste and bad priorities. While the Platform Caucus unites on fiscal restraint, the group is even more united around social conservatism.
I spoke with non-Platform-Caucus Republicans who also oppose the new tax schemes.We discussed the current issues of the session. They tell me that there could be 20 strong fiscal conservatives banding together to oppose any revenue bills until the urgent reforms get a hearing. Speaker McCall has locked up almost all reform bills in his Rules Committee. He wants to try tax hikes first. The reason why we are still waiting and still spending money on this extraordinary session, is partly because the reforms are being crated up in the mothballs of the Rules Committee, rather than given a chance to get a floor vote.
- Rep. George Faught's 'anti swag' bill has some bipartisan support. Democrat Rep. Eric Proctor has offered to cosponsor the measure which failed to get a proper presentation in last May's JCAB. The Majority Floor Leader also supported in last May. But the $30 million reform initiative has no via path to a floor vote until the House leadership changes course and releases it from the Rules Committee.
- Rep. Calvey has a way to move money away from school bureaucrats and provide teachers a $5000 pay raise with the savings, but it too, is locked in the Rules Committee.
- A similar idea to Calvey's is a reform to adjust the average class size up by 2 students. It would free up another $5000 in annual teacher pay. Oklahoma currently spends more than California on per-pupil on teacher pay. But since our classes are so small, our teachers are barred from getting more pay.
- Millionaire Oklahoma families are receiving millions in subsidized state college tuition, but no one seems to be ready to 'means-test' the nearly billion dollars that goes to the Higher Ed. Regents, rather than the struggling students of lower income families seeking to go to college.