By Rep. RICK WEST
In late March, the House Democrats released their plan for fixing Oklahoma’s budget crisis. Dubbed the Restoring Oklahoma Plan, the lawmakers asked constituents to reach out to their reps, and boy, did you listen. Because I’ve received calls and emails, I wanted to share a bit of information that came across my desk.
The Restoring Oklahoma Plan says it would generate 1.395 billion in revenue. In a recent email to lawmakers, Doerflinger said budget analysts at the Office of Management and Enterprise Services predict the revenue for Fiscal Year 2018 would be closer to $816 million. Assuming OMES is correct, the Restoring Oklahoma Plan would still fall short of the $878 million needed to close the projected budget gap.
That said, Doerflinger points to a number of discrepancies between what his office finds and what the Restoring Oklahoma plan proposes. The plan says the state would see $100 million in revenue by requiring combined corporate tax reporting. In his email, Doerflinger says the Oklahoma Tax Commission can’t substantiate the amount because “combined corporate reporting is not a one size fits all.”
Heated discussions are to be expected when it comes to something as crucial as a state budget. People’s livelihoods depend on the money the state appropriates, and that fact is not lost on me. Budget negotiations are ongoing, and House Republicans have started rolling out proposals to help balance the budget.
We’re first looking at tax credits, deductions and incentives. Last week, we voted to eliminate the tax exemption for things like tickets to Oklahoma City Thunder games. That change is expected to generate about $2 million each year. While it may sound small, steps like these become the building blocks for a successful budget.
It’s my job as a representative to wade through every piece of paper that comes across my desk, including complicated revenue proposals. It’s also my job to listen to my constituents when you call about certain bills or policy ideas you’ve heard about. I take all of that information into account when deciding how I’ll vote on an issue. So to those who have reached out, thank you. Your feedback is an important part of the legislative process.
If you have more questions about the Restoring Oklahoma Plan, I’d be happy to share what OMES and Preston Doerflinger have shared with me. It’s crucial that we all try to remain above partisan politics when crafting a budget that affects all Oklahomans.
As always, I’ll be on KPRV Friday morning at 7:35. Following the interview, I’ll be at the Le Flore County GOP office from 9 a.m. until noon. That office is located at 1301 S. Broadway in Poteau. Please continue to share your thoughts with me as session moves forward. My email address is [email protected], and my office number is (405) 557-7413. Thank you, and may God bless this great state.
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