Just as the Oklahoma Supreme Court tossed a significant portion of the revenue for this year’s state budget last week, the state Senate completed a study of state finances.
Led by Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, the sessions were intended to give lawmakers a better understanding of how state government is funded and how the money is spent.
“You can’t reform what you don’t understand,” Thompson said in a press release.
Thompson said state finances are “an extremely complex issue, but ultimately it affects every single person in Oklahoma. These hearings were comprehensive, and included research gathered over the past two decades. We didn’t need to reinvent the wheel — but now it’s time to get that wheel rolling.”
Tax reform is where Thompson wants to go. He said the current system is not in line with long-term economic trends.
“We must be able to provide adequate resources for our most fundamental services, but instead of raising taxes, we need to broaden the tax base — doing that will provide the resources we need and we could even lower the overall tax rate,” Thompson said.
“In the early 1950’s, 67 percent of goods sold were taxed. Today it’s just 32 percent — less than half,” Thompson said. “Modernizing our tax code and broadening the tax base will enable us to stabilize our budget and better fund our schools, health and mental health, public safety, and better address other critical needs.”
Local control: State Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola, knocked an opinion issued by Attorney General Mike Hunter concerning state-sponsored charter schools.
Responding to an inquiry by Gann, Hunter said the state department of education and the state school board were within their rights to approve charter schools over the objections of local school boards.
“Regardless of the pros and cons of charter schools versus public schools, this is a new, unprecedented concentration of power in the hands of the governor, who appoints every member of the (state school board),” Gann said in a written statement. “This is just another example of the top-down approach that obstructs the decisions on the local level where parents, teachers and students are represented by elected school board members.”
Meetings and events: Kornelius Morgan, Democratic Party field organizer for northeastern Oklahoma, will speak to Creek County Democrats at 6 p.m. Thursday at Joseph’s of Drumright, 54580 Highway 16, Drumright.
Fourth District Congressman Tom Cole will speak to the Tulsa Republican Club at 11:30 a.m. Friday at The Summit Club, 15 W. Sixth St.
The Young Businessmen of Tulsa will hold a First Congressional District candidate forum at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 28 at Ti Amo’s, 6024-A S. Sheridan Road. Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP online to bit.ly/2wPCafh.
— Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa World