In this week’s segment of Capitol Report on News9, commentator Patrick B. McGuigan gave a critical review of a budget and spending deal that seems to have some initial strong support. He applauded comments from Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb concerning proposed tax increases under consideration at the Legislature. “I praise him, I salute him,” McGuigan said of Lamb’s words Tuesday evening at a Stillwater meeting.
The CapitolBeatOK editor said that it would amount to imposition of a “fraud tax” or “fraud fee” on taxpayers to increase taxes without much stricter scrutiny of government agencies. Saying he respected the motivations of those with contrary views, he asserted that the series of spending scandals in government are not inevitable, and that all the cost-drivers in Oklahoma government should be regularly (and independently) audited. Pointing out that the Chickasaw Nation is helping lead and finance the new push for higher taxes and spending, McGuigan said he feared the cost of their involvement will be expanded gambling.
The larger tribes in general, but the Chickasaw in particular, already have too many advantages over smaller tribes and in compacts with the state government, he said. The state’s compact with the tribe should be renegotiated, “and not in favor of the Chickasaws,” he concluded. In dialogue with Alex Cameron, veteran reporter for the CBS News affiliate, McGuigan quipped he had given “so much heck” to state Treasurer Ken Miller that it has been fun, in recent months, to share Miller’s distillation of monthly good news for state government tax revenues collections.
Gross receipts to the Oklahoma Treasury surged 12 percent in December, and jumped 6.2 percent for all of 2017, Miller has reported. Turning to the state’s largest (and capital) city, McGuigan noted sales tax revenues jumped 7.8 percent in the latest reporting period. “The state’s economy has rebounded, and that’s good news,” McGuigan said.