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10 Apr
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RELEASE: Oklahoma Senate Approves Earlier Sunset of Wind Tax Credit

For Immediate Release: April 10, 2017

Oklahoma Senate Approves Earlier Sunset of Wind Tax Credit

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz released the following statement after the Senate approved HB 2298, which moves up the sunset date of the zero-emissions tax credit to July 1, 2017.

“The zero-emissions tax credit did what it was supposed to do—help the wind industry get off the ground in Oklahoma. Our state ranks third in the nation in terms of wind power and will likely remain among the leaders in wind power for the foreseeable future. The state is facing extraordinary budget challenges, and we can no longer afford the zero-emissions tax credit. This measure provides certainty to the wind industry and stability in the long-term for the state budget. I appreciate my Senate colleagues for overwhelmingly approving this measure.”

HB 2298, authored by Schulz, R-Altus, and House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, passed the Senate by a vote of 40-3. The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for consideration.

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10 Apr
0

“Come Together and Fight Back” Tour with Sanders and Perez

Sanders and Perez Announce “Come Together and Fight Back” Tour

Senator Bernie Sanders, DNC Chair Tom Perez and other Democratic Party leaders will be traveling to nine “red” and “purple” states starting on April 17th. Along with local activists they are tentatively scheduled to hold rallies in Maine, Kentucky, Florida, Nebraska, Utah, Montana, Arizona and Nevada. More information will be released in the coming days. The purpose of their trip is to begin the process of creating a Democratic Party which is strong and active in all 50 states, and a party which focuses on grassroots activism and the needs of working families.

Sanders and Perez stated: “At a time of massive income and wealth inequality and a shrinking middle class, we need a government which represents all Americans, not just Wall Street, multi-national corporations and the top 1 percent. Regardless of where they live or their political affiliations, most people understand that it is absurd for Republicans in Congress to support huge tax breaks for billionaires while pushing for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They understand that the recent Republican health care proposal which would have thrown 24 million Americans off of their health insurance, substantially raised premiums for older workers and defunded Planned Parenthood while, at the same time, providing almost $300 billion in tax breaks to the top 2 percent is a disgraceful idea.”

Sanders and Perez will speak out for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, pay equity for women, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, combatting climate change, making public colleges and universities tuition-free, criminal justice reform, comprehensive immigration reform and tax reform which demands that the wealthy and large corporations start paying their fair share of taxes.

07 Apr
0

RELEASE: Okla. Ship of State is Capsizing By State Rep. Ben Loring

Okla. Ship of State is Capsizing, And We’re All in the Same Boat By State Rep. Ben Loring

MIAMI, OK (7 April 2017) – I have been told about a recent poll that claims more than one-third (36%) of Oklahoma’s voters mistakenly believe “the Democrats” control the Legislature, and the poll goes even further in that the same voters are evenly split at 50/50 as to which party is responsible for the state’s current economic crisis.

After my immediate sense of indignation subsided, I began to think about this a little more rationally. Basically what that poll is saying is the voters don’t care whose fault it is; they don’t want finger-pointing. What they need and want is that we, your elected leaders, fix the problem. And the voters are right. It is not a D or an R who needs to fight to keep our schools from increasing to 30+ students in a classroom and our rural hospitals from closing. It is not a D or an R who needs to keep our state parks open to serve as an economic generator to businesses, hotels and eateries for miles around. It is legislators who need to step up and lead this state through this crisis. And the voters are right to expect that from both the D’s and the R’s.

And the numbers (for instance, 73 R’s to 26 D’s in the House, with two vacancies) require it. They necessitate that the D’s and R’s work together to get done the things that the voters expect of us.

For example, to pass a bill that raises revenue – which everyone except the most dim-witted understands needs to be done – requires 76 affirmative votes in the House of Representatives. The R’s can’t do it on their own; they don’t have 76, and obviously the D’s can’t do it, either. The state cannot withstand another budget year of slashing and destruction. So, we have to work together.

That is not to say everyone should expect the D’s and R’s to march down Lincoln Boulevard arm in arm, singing “Kumbaya”. There are differences; philosophical and pragmatic disagreements, as to what needs to be done.

The most significant issue is: Who is going to pay for it? Is the burden of the tax increase or the reduced service or benefit going to fall primarily on the backs of the poor, the ever-diminishing middle class, or the wealthy? The injured worker or the corporation that profited from his or her labor? When the polluter, the criminal, or the parent that neglects his or her child fails in their moral duties, to what extent should the state government step in, protect the victim and try to undo the damage? When we are trying to fix or sustain someone, whether we are talking about the sick, the mentally ill, the addict, the disabled, the suffering veteran, the struggling victim of domestic abuse, the student pursuing his or her education to break the cycle of generational poverty – what role should our state government play in that endeavor? And how much of the tab should be picked up by Oklahoma taxpayers?

There are lots of rumors flying around the State Capitol rotunda about how this budget crisis is going to be addressed. There is the D plan. Various R’s claim to have a plan. These will be fleshed out over the next two months. No side is going to get everything they want. There will be give-and-take. But the important thing is that there is conversation going on between both sides right now – not as much as there should be, but more than at any other time in my limited experience here.

So what are we really talking about? One of the R proposals is to eliminate the itemized deduction on your state income taxes. That means everybody would have to take the standard deduction. I don’t like that one bit – not because it is an R idea, but because it hurts families that pay a mortgage; it hurts families that tithe to their church, etc. In other words, it hurts large segments of my constituency and similar folks all across the state. So I would most probably vote against this. But if we can agree to something else which is worthwhile to the state and my constituents, and that offsets the disadvantages of this idea in return for a “yes” vote, I certainly would consider voting for it.

We are all in this together and there is a lot we can accomplish by working together. However, after releasing the D’s’ “Restore Oklahoma Plan” to get the state out of its financial hole, and encouraging constituents to email all Representatives what they like or dislike about our plan, or for any other reason a citizen has to contact all Representatives, leadership shut down the IT system for incoming emails to multiple Representatives. Really? That is open, transparent, responsive government that encourages everyone to work together?!

Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.

(Representative Loring is a Democrat from Miami.)

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MIKE W. RAY
Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives
(405) 962-7819 office
(405) 245-4411 mobile

07 Apr
0

RELEASE: DNC Chair Jobs Report Statement

Perez on Jobs Report

DNC Chair and former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez released this statement in response to today’s jobs report:

“Donald Trump got a gift from Barack Obama: a strong economy with the longest streak of private sector job growth on record and real wage growth. But it won’t last forever if Donald Trump doesn’t get his priorities straight. The only way to continue the strong growth of the Obama era is to make smart investments that grow our economy from the middle out and bottom up. We need investments in infrastructure to rebuild our roads and bridges; middle class tax cuts, instead of tax cuts for the wealthy; and higher wages for the bottom half instead of the top one percent.

“So far, all we’ve seen from Trump are handouts for corporations and his billionaire buddies on Wall Street. TrumpCare wasn’t about keeping Americans healthy, it was about keeping his friends wealthy; and his so-called ‘skinny budget’ slashed investments in things like job training and education. That’s why Democrats are fighting harder than ever to hold Republicans accountable. Working families are counting on us.”

05 Apr
0

RELEASE: Perez on Trump’s Failure to Repeal ACA, Again

Perez on Trump’s Failure to Repeal ACA, Again

DNC chair Tom Perez released the statement below in response to news that President Trump and Speaker Ryan’s second attempt to repeal the ACA failed:

“Americans made their voices heard and now for the second time in two weeks, Trump’s attempt to repeal the ACA was rejected. I know Trump likes polls – how does he like this poll? 75% of Americans want Trump to improve and build on Obamacare instead of repealing it.”