Archives for posts with tag: Oklahoma State Budget

My State Congressional Representative, Andy Fugate, shared a Tulsa newspaper editorial about our state having the happy condition of a revenue excess in closing out the books for the year. The funds go into the rainy day emergency fund.

The Tulsa paper thought it necessary to deride our “red” legislature and governor, so I decided not to link it. Negativity is to be avoided, and your favored search engine will make it easy to find if you wish, but I’m also irked by their use of intrusive ads and their refusal to allow reading with the ad-blocking software enabled.

Governor Stitt asserted he wants the rainy day fund to stand at more than twice its current level. The Tulsa editors thought it proper to deride the amount and pretend if a little more is good, why not a lot more? Hardly a helpful observation.

There was a ballot initiative recently voted down that was designed to set aside a small percentage of the budget for a few years, allowing the set-aside to accumulate, and with fiscally-conservative investment, the amount would grow beyond the amounts set aside. It would be like an endowment or retirement account, with the notion the State could eventually “retire” at least some of the taxes. Wouldn’t that be nice? Of course, naysayers decried it, and it failed to pass.

I’m not sure why. It was likely to require 20 to 25 years to become a significant portion of the state government’s revenue, and after that long, tax reductions would be easy conversations. Alarmism and emotional appeals would be hard to make, and fiscal considerations could be made on merit. The taxes might not then go down because the majority might prefer the extra services, but at least the argument would be on merit, not fear. In the meantime, it would have mattered almost nothing. The set-aside was small, and with a year like this one, we’d have looked rather sagacious. Oh well. Maybe it will come up again. Maybe we will be wiser next time. For now, we have editors whining we are not taxed enough.

I’m not a fan of a significant rainy day fund. We need very little sustained surplus for unforeseen shortfalls. We could, however, use excess funds to set up self-sustainment for programs.

Given the nature of politics and other factors influencing state government spending and desires for programs, just having a large endowment for funding the government would just lead to more spending and more waste (and more intrusion into everyday lives of Oklahomans).

I suspect we could set up endowments for programs, though. We could structure the investment restrictions and funding and spending requirements to incentivize the program directors to wisely and frugally run the endowments to the best advantage of their program.

Considering Oklahoma’s highways and toll roads could be instructive. It is a system that has its drawbacks, and plenty of detractors, but overall, the system is relatively efficient, and the toll revenues relieve some burden from the budgets. The tolls are not set up as an endowment but as a supplement to the highways moneys. It isn’t a strong analogy, but we can look at it and how other such things work (and failures, too), and we could lower the tax burden on our children and grandchildren without depriving them of important government services.

In general, I want less government. A set of invested endowments probably would increase government more than I’d like. Government is part of the problem, but taxes are most of the problem. Taxation is theft, and one simply doesn’t get sustainable good moral results from inherently immoral acts like forcing people to relinquish honestly earned income for services they generally don’t want and seldom use.

I’m willing to risk a bit more government if it comes with less taxes.

Regarding wanting a hefty state budget reserve, I must point out that Governor Stitt ran a rather successful business. I think it unwise to dismiss his financial advice. I’m not inclined to accept it this time, but I’ll give reasons for that, not derision.

Ever notice that for the most part politicians and lawmakers do whatever the heck they want?

They pretend to speak for the people. They pretend to represent our interests, but they just play their power games and do whatever the heck they want. I know there are a few exceptions, but the portion is too small to matter. Even the ones I’m not mad at still play the games; they still just stick it to us any old way that helps them achieve their priorities, priorities that change with the political winds.

On the drive home, I heard some snippets on the radio and composed the following to my legislators. I’ll be surprised if I even get an acknowledgement.

First, I heard on the radio a Democratic congressman blaming everything on the Republicans. Can we stop the childish name calling and blame casting, please? There is plenty of blame to go round, and the problem is spending, not revenue. Focus on the problem and reducing it, not on some preferred band-aid.

I heard on the radio someone claiming “the voters” want higher taxes on oil. Well, no. No, I don’t think they do. I know I don’t.

I really don’t think anyone wants more taxes. Put a volunteer option on the tax forms, and see if anyone donates extra. (I doubt even the outspoken Democratic politicians will.)

Honestly, there are no such things as corporate taxes; there are no such things as taxes on oil. There are only costs to operations, to extraction, and to production. We voters pay for all that no matter what caused the cost. If the oil folks have more taxes, the costs simply go up, and our prices go up to cover it.

I find it disingenuous and deceitful to pretend the gross production tax is simply on the oil companies. No, it is simply on you and me, and we pay it with every tank-full and every heating bill.

I’m good with getting rid of specialty tax laws and exemptions. The leveler the field the better, but let’s be realistic about it. All state taxes come out of the pockets of every Oklahoma citizen, no matter how a given tax is assessed.

We need less spending. We need fewer state programs. We need consolidation in the things we spend on. Mostly, we need the budget reduced.

Figure it out. Do the hard work. Don’t just pass the buck on to me and the rest of Oklahoma’s tax payers and residents.

You can start by repealing the prohibitions. That will lower some budget requirements.

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