By Rep. RICK WEST
This week provided a bit of a rough go for students at Cameron High School. Tuesday night, the school caught fire, devastating most of the building. Despite the brave firefighters’ quick response, the gym and the high school are mostly gutted.
Thankfully, our community did what it does best and banded together to help out Cameron High. Parents have already stepped up to donate curriculum materials, school supplies and other necessities. The people at Kiamichi Technology Center have lent their support as well. Between the generous spirit of the community and the additional classrooms available on Cameron’s campus, the superintendent believes students could be back in class by the end of this week.
It’s hard to see a fire destroy a school with so many memories. While I was at the school last week visiting with Superintendent Jim Caughern, I thought about how much has happened at that place. Countless students braved their first day of high school over the decades. Parents cheered their kids on at graduation year after year. Community members rooted for students during the hundreds of basketball games inside that gymnasium. While it is sad to see the building gone, those memories will stick with us forever. And I’m grateful for that.
In other news, you may remember the Oklahoma legislature voted in the last week of session to repeal a tax exemption on vehicle purchases. After we adjourned, companies challenged the measure, saying it was a revenue-raising measure that should have required a three-fourths vote. The Supreme Court ended up siding with the lawmakers this week on the bill.
In recent weeks, I have fielded a lot of calls from LeFlore County residents asking why it has become more expensive to buy a car. This measure is the reason why. Whether or not the court said the primary purpose of the bill was to raise revenue, it does raise revenue – and it raises revenue of the folks who can least afford it.
This ruling is good news on one side of the coin: It makes it easier for the legislature to remove unwise and inefficient tax credits and exemptions. The other side of that coin is that it’s also easier for lawmakers to do away with useful exemptions in a way that could hurt vulnerable Oklahomans.
I suspect we’ll know within the next few weeks whether we’re headed into special session. Quite frankly, I cannot understand why there seems to be a hesitation with lawmakers to root out waste in government. It’s frustrating, and the pushback I’ve seen with similar ideas makes it clear why Oklahomans are frustrated with the political process. There’s a simple enough solution – some lawmakers just don’t want to make that choice.
As always, I’m ready and willing to help if you need anything. Just call my office at 405-557-7413 or email me at [email protected]. Thanks, and God bless.
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