Patrick B. McGuigan
During this legislative session, a Republican member of the Oklahoma state Senate compared advocacy of school choice to Nazi medical experimentation.
Another Republican called for deportation of Oklahoma students who speak English as a second language.
Legislative Democrats – all members of the party of Robert S. Kerr and Raymond Gary – regularly attacked Oklahoma’s most significant heritage industry, oil and gas, comparing energy leaders to robber barons.
Meanwhile, the legislative majority waited until the last days of the session to sit down with the minority party leadership to discuss issues that could have been cussed over and clarified in early February.
Advocating a wide range of tax increases, the governor used the language of moral outrage to attack members of her own party who had hoped to stick to the promises of smaller government and long-term tax relief for tax payers.
Taxes are going up and the size of government will be more or less the same as this past year, even though the state remains at the back end of a recession. Tax increases that passed were called fees so that the majority could ignore the constitutional requirement that three-quarters legislative support is needed for new taxes.
The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and Scott Inman usually don’t agree on government finance, but they agree that what the Legislature did on taxes violates a state question the government has lived with for more than 20 years.
Public education, top-heavy with inefficiencies and administrative bloat, was held more or less harmless, and will still get about 51 percent of all the money our state government spends.
The balanced budget presented to us was secured by unconstitutional means – and it’s not even truly balanced, as both Jonathan Small of OCPA and the Democrats have pointed out.
If there was ever a year for honesty and clarity in government, this was it.
Our leaders have failed us.