Oklahoma Lawmakers have let us down… again
10:39 AM EDT on October 30, 2017
Congratulations, Oil Overlords. It looks like you may get the draconian budget you always wanted!
Over the weekend, an Oklahoma House Committee failed to advance a compromised "Plan A" budget package (it stalled on a 11-11 vote) that would have filled the $215-million budget hole, raised gas and gross production taxes, and given teachers and state employee a raise.
Instead, like a college girl making a walk of shame trip to CVS, lawmakers are turning to "Plan B." Here are the details via The Tulsa World:
With the so-called “Plan A” all but dead, lawmakers are expected to turn to a “Plan B,” which consists of five bills requiring only simple majorities. The floor votes on Plan B could come as soon as Saturday morning.
Plan B includes as much as $100 million in spending cuts, accesses reserve and carryover funds, and partially removes the state sales-tax exemption on gasoline. Under the proposal, the 4.5 percent tax would be imposed on the first $1.66 per gallon, which works out to about 7.5 cents per gallon.
Plan B does not include teacher or state employee pay raises or the restoration of the state earned income tax credit.
Just about everyone with a soul and conscience hates Plan B. Hobby Lobby has even come out against the plan saying that public policy "begins at conception."
The failure of the Plan A budget package – which was still a shitty, patchwork plan that let oil companies off the hook – really pissed off the Senate Republicans who crossed our Oil Overlords and supported it. Senate Majority Floor Leader Greg Treat – who's bound to see a well-funded oil industry backed opponent in this next primary – had some very strong words for the lawmakers who didn't vote for it:
"We saw a lot of cowardice on display yesterday. We saw people vote for a teacher pay increase but not vote for the revenue to fund it. We saw people go into the committee room and refuse to put either a yes or no on the board. We saw people present resolutions on social media to a comic convention and not show up and vote in committee.
He's not joking around. Instead of showing up to vote at the Capitol, State Rep. John Paul Jordan – or as lobbyists affectionately call him "Jolly Rancher Jordan" – went to Wizard World to give Silent Bob's friend a "Citation of Appreciation."
Here's the video:
And we wonder why this state is such a shit hole.
Here's more from Senator Treat:
"I, quite frankly, like a lot of Oklahomans, I'm disgusted. We've tried everything we can out of the Senate. We had a bipartisan resolution, and I can't underscore enough how thankful I am for John Sparks and Kay Floyd and the Senate Democrats for putting aside party politics.
"This isn't the student council. Real lives are impacted. We're not deciding what's going to be the theme of the homecoming. We're talking about 'Are mental health services going to be funded? Is DHS going to be funded?' We're talking about real lives, and it saddens me to think that people can't compromise on the west side of the Capitol."
In hindsight, maybe our lawmakers should just focus on homecoming themes. They're obviously not intelligent enough to make important public policy decisions.
Even Mary Fallin is criticizing the lawmakers:
Fallin, who previously has said she would not sign anything that results in significant cuts to core services, lamented the latest stalemate of a monthlong special session.
“It appears ... we will have to prepare a budget that will include drastic across-the-board cuts for all state agencies,” Fallin said in a written statement. “The (committee’s) inability to pass a meaningful revenue bill means our state will not have enough funds for agencies to deliver essential core services that work for our people. As a result, worst-case scenarios will become reality.
“Our state is at a fiscal crossroads, and it’s unfortunate that this House committee couldn’t get the job done and failed so miserably by keeping us on a road to failure.”
Wow. I'm going to take Mary Fallin's word on that one. Give the lady credit, she's the world's leading expert at failing miserably and keeping Oklahoma on the road the failure.
Update: State Rep John Jordan contacted us today to provide context to the Jason Mewes citation and respond to Senator Treat's comments:
Unfortunately I missed JCAB Friday because at the time I was getting my father into an ambulance at his home in Mustang. In his clouded state he was refusing treatment and I had to go and take over to get him to the hospital. The citation to Jason Mewes because of his success with sobriety and overcoming addiction had been scheduled months in advance and took place on Friday at 6:00 pm. Unfortunately, Floor Leader Treat didn’t check with any Republican member of the House about the missing votes when he gave his press conference on Saturday.