Category Archives: Oklahoma Politics

Tax Increases Work

Would you risk your state’s economy and the health and welfare of its citizens on a theory that has never worked? Well, Oklahoma’s Governor and Legislature decided they would try Laffer’s trickle-down economics again and sure will rogeresenough it did not work, – again. The budget hole in Oklahoma is now $600 million deep and our politicians just keep digging. Perhaps they should have  consider what our most popular Oklahoman, Will Rogers, said about trickle-down economics back in 1932.

Oklahoma is now having to make cuts in education, infrastructure, the salaries of public workers,  pension plans, and they are thinking about letting people out of jail because they cannot afford to keep them keep them locked up. Even yet, Oklahoma is cutting taxes even more next year thinking that the problem is that they just have not tried it hard enough.

It has not worked in Kansas either. Governor Sam Brownback has put Kansas deeply in debt with his experiment, he calls it, with the trickle-down theory. He cut taxes and refuses to raise taxes even though there is $179 million budget shortfall. Governor Brownback, too, thinks the problem is that Kansans just have not wished hard enough that Tickle-down Theory will work. He is also wishing that the $500 million budget deficit projected for next year will somehow magically go away. Governor Tim Pawlenty tried it in Minnesota and he left office in 2011 with a a $6.2 billion budget deficit and a 7 percent unemployment rate.

When Mark Dayton, a businessman and billionaire, was elected governor in Minnesota he had the good sense to realize that when something was not working, you give it up. During his first four years in office, Gov. Dayton raised the state income tax from 7.85 to 9.85 percent on individuals earning over $150,000 – a tax increase of $2.1 billion. He’s also agreed to raise Minnesota’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2018, and passed a state law guaranteeing equal pay for women. He was warned that the job creators and corporations, big and small would leave, but they did not. Between 2011 and 2015, Gov. Dayton added 172,000 new jobs, and though Minnesota’s  top income tax rate is the 4th-highest in the country, it has the 5th-lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.6 percent.

Will Rogers had the theory right. Money trickles up and pools at the top. Those at the top really like that, and they pour campaign money to politicians who will keep trying  trickle-down economics. Governor Dayton showed that tax increases  and rational economic policies work, but Oklahoma and Kansas are just going to keep wishing and digging.

ALEC at Work in the Oklahoma Legislature

In a Readers Forum article in the Tulsa World, “Responsible, conservative reforms working”, Brian Bingman, president pro tem of the Oklahoma Senate, states how proud he is of what the legislature has been able to accomplish. Mr. Bingman is rather quick to pat himself and the legislature on the back, as the reforms he cites were more to the benefit of corporations than of the average citizen The tax reform and tax cut leaves the state badly underfunded. The balanced budget, achieved by cutting needed services, does not meet the needs of the state. The Capitol building repair was funded by bonds, rather than taxes, which has further indebted the state in the future. The education system is badly underfunded and the tax cuts have only made the situation worse in the future.

The workers compensation reform limits an injured workers right to full compensation for his injuries. Tort reform makes it harder for the average citizen to seek redress in court and limits the liability of corporations. The reform to the state’s public employee pension system, by privatizing the future pension system, destabilizes the existing program, and is a boon to private fund managers. The failure to expand Medicaid will cost the state billions of dollars in Federal funds, that we pay as taxes, and has left 144,000 Oklahomans without adequate healthcare. The hastily passed changes and extensions to corporate oil and gas subsidies, demanded by Oklahoma’s three largest oil and gas companies,  were unnecessary and will make the state’s budget problems worse in future  – and were likely unconstitutional.

Next to the Governor, Mr. Bingman is the highest ranking member of ALEC in our state and his achievements are  high on the list of ALEC’s model legislation. Many of those “accomplishments” benefit  ALEC’s corporate members, but in the end they will hurt Oklahoma and its citizens.  The Governor and 70 of our 149 legislators are members of ALEC, so what chance does an average citizen have?

If you would like to end the influence of ALEC on politics in Oklahoma, please go to https://okcitizensfirst.org/2014/04/24/alec/ and ask your candidates for office to pledge that they will put the needs of Oklahoma citizens first. Let’s vote out anyone who won’t.

Note: The related Credo Petition to Governor Fallin about Mediaid expansion is at:  https://www.credomobilize.com/petitions/governor-fallin-release-the-31-e-mails-about-medicaid-expansion

The The OK Citizens First Pledge:

As a candidate for public office in Oklahoma, I pledge that I will not join ALEC or any similar organization which will keep me from representing the best interests of Oklahoma citizens.

Purpose: This is a nonpartisan site set up to identify the candidates for office in Oklahoma who will pledge to represent, first and foremost, the interests of Oklahoma citizens.

Signing: Candidates may sign the pledge by stating so in an email to OKCitizensFirstPledge@yahoo.com . They will then be identified with an “OK” on the Oklahoma 2014 Candidate List below.

Reasons the Pledge is Needed

 ALEC in Oklahoma: Last May, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) met in Oklahoma City to help our state legislators write “model legislation”.  While representatives, lobbyists, and lawyers from ALEC’s Corporate contingency met with our lawmakers, citizens protested across the street. They, and members of the press, had been barred from attending by security guards. The agenda of the meeting was secret and an elaborate system kept it from being obtained by Freedom of Information Act requests. The model legislation was not published, yet some has been introduced in our legislature without being identified as ALEC legislation. ALEC has a team of corporate lawyers and think tank experts who develop biased rationales and write articles and op-ed pieces to justify and sell the model legislation. You may read more about the influence of ALEC in Oklahoma on the Oklahoma Policy Institute Blog.

Secrecy: What is known about ALEC has been discovered by leaked documents and by citizen’s watchdog groups.  ALEC is a 501(c)(3) organization which is not required to reveal its donors or its funding. It has 300 corporate and special interest groups as members and 1800 legislative members (70 from Oklahoma), but it will not release its membership lists. SourceWatch lists 27 Oklahoma Representatives and 10 Oklahoma Senators as members, leaving about 30 whose identities remain secret . They have introduced a number of bills which have been identified as ALEC “model bills”, others whose source is secret, and some have become law, much to the detriment of many Oklahoma citizens.

Bipartisanship: No matter what your political affiliation, I think you should agree that this is not the democratic way to make Oklahoma laws. Our laws should not be written in secret, introduced without identifying their source, and supported by our legislators who are members of a secret organization.

What you can do: If you are a candidate, pledge on your honor that will not join ALEC or any similar organization which will keep you from representing the best interests of Oklahoma citizens.

 If you are a voter:

  • find your candidates in the list below, and email them, asking them to take the pledge.
  • pick several other candidates from the list below and send them an email. Let them know you are concerned.
  • attend campaign events and ask candidates if they have pledged to put Oklahoma citizens first.
  • write op-ed pieces, letters to the editor, or post comments  – shining light on ALEC and publicizing the pledge.
  • anything else you can think of to help create a buzz. Help make this a campaign issue. And, please register and vote.

 Oklahoma 2016 Incumbent list with ALEC ties

Oklahoma Legislators with ALEC Ties

House of Representatives

Senate

Former Representatives


SourceWatch
  has connected the following politicians to ALEC through ALEC documentation, the Oklahoma Almanac, or by ALEC donations as reported at the Oklahoma ethics webpage. 

State Offices

  • Governor – Mary Fallin
  • Lt. Governor  —  Todd Lamb
  • Attorney General  —  E Scott Pruit
  • Secretary of State  —  Glenn Coffee State
  • Treasurer  —  Ken Miller

U.S. Congress

  • James Inhofe R,United States Senate
  • Frank Lucas R, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Tom Cole R, U.S. House of Representatives

Note! This post was updated on May 28, 2016.