By Sen. JOSEPH SILK
The first two weeks of session are behind us and we are starting to see bills come out of committees and making their way to the Senate floor for a full vote. As is typical, the first two weeks haven’t provided many real impacting bills; those will come in the next couple of weeks.
This week, I want to take a break from reviewing the legislation that I’ve authored and dedicate this column to briefly discuss the budget issues we are facing and the Governor’s tax proposals.
We are facing yet another budget shortfall this year, although some of the measures we passed the past couple of years are having an impact and the shortfall is several hundred million dollars better off than it was last year.
Oklahoma is not alone when it comes to budget woes. Sadly, it is becoming increasingly common for states to find themselves with budget issues. This shortfall comes from multiple issues, and I would like to highlight several of them.
1. Growing Government: This is an ongoing issue that I have always fought hard against. The number of state agencies, departments, commissions and boards is staggering. They’re all at the Capitol attempting to receive more and more funding, so they can secure their jobs, give raises, hire more employees, and come up with more regulation they can force on the people. Since the only true purpose of government is to protect life, liberty and property, it shouldn’t take that many agencies to achieve that goal. We must ask ourselves; do we feel that our tax dollars are going directly to fund the protection of our God given rights? Or are they being squandered away on huge, out of control government which is leading to a budget shortfall and funneling funds away from core services?
- More Dependency on Government: Naturally when you have state agencies that are attempting to get more people to depend on them so they can grow their departments, more and more citizens will buy into it and become dependent on the government. Simple mathematics tells you that if less people pay taxes and more people depend on the government (tax dollars), it won’t take long before we are upside down financially. If we had the opposite, where people were trying to become less dependent on government services, more tax dollars would be used for core functions like public safety.
- Tax Infrastructure Issues: During my three years in the Senate, we have gone back and looked at needless tax credits that our predecessors left us, and we have begun the process of capping and eliminating many of them, which we are already seeing the benefits of. One that is still out there is the zero emissions tax credit (most know this as wind), and we must put an end to the state writing checks to an industry that brings very few jobs or benefits to our state. The Governor’s recent tax proposal ideas about additional taxes on the service industry is absurd, and I will do everything I can to stop it.
In conclusion, we cannot tax our way to prosperity. As a business owner, I know that we as a state must first look at where we are spending our money, because by doing so, we will find and redirect money to the true functions of government. After that is under control, then you can look at other means of raising revenue. To bring it home, do you feel the tax dollars intended for education are actually reaching the classroom and educating our children?
Are the tax dollars intended for public safety actually reaching our highway patrolmen and sheriff’s deputies? Are the tax dollars intended to build roads actually building and repairing roads? My opinion is sure, some of those dollars are reaching their intended purpose, but by addressing the above issues we could increase them substantially.
As always, feel free to contact me with any issues I can help you with at 405-521-5614 or by email at [email protected].
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