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16 Dec
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Oklahoma Democratic Party Statement on Budget Failure

[Oklahoma City, OK, December 16, 2015] Yesterday the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) released information that the gross revenue fund receipts will result in a $900.8 million revenue failure next year. This comes just two weeks before a massive tax break goes into effect, a tax break that the majority of Oklahomans agree is unnecessary and uncalled for[1] at a time when we face year after year of budget deficits compounded by the fact that the Republican legislature refuses to address the statewide revenue loss. Today, Mark Hammons, Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party released the following statement following this news:

“The budget failure we are seeing – and have seen over the past two years – has two parts: an inability to project revenue and irresponsibility in assessing and allocating taxes. The result is basic state services, which were already cut to the bone, are going to be cut again this year. This next year, the ever-growing budget hole will mean even more drastic cuts to education, law enforcement, and roads and bridges.

“The Republicans have shown that they simply don’t have the willingness to engage in good government and their policies are based on rhetoric and not reality. Their financial programs are tilted in favor of large corporate and political donors while ignoring the needs of working Oklahomans.

“It’s time for the direction of government to dramatically change and that will require a leadership change from top to bottom, starting with legislative elections in 2016. It is now clearer than ever that Democrats represent the voice of reasonable and responsible government choice. Democrats fought until the bitter end to stop the tax breaks from going into effect during a budget crisis, but the Republicans refused to face reality and accept that it was not a responsible move until we have addressed our revenue failures.

“An example of the lack of priorities is that the Governor has turned down our tax dollars by denying health care to thousands of Oklahomans and putting rural hospitals at risk. Expanding healthcare would have generated over half of a billion dollars in revenue, created more than 13,000 new jobs, and would have helped our rural hospitals to continue the services necessary to provide timely healthcare for persons in rural Oklahoma. Without our rural hospitals, there’s no real opportunity for true industrial growth. Her policies, and those of the Republican legislature, have directly harmed rural Oklahoma by taking away funds and jobs that are necessary for the growth of our rural communities.

“When the Republicans cut money from the county roads and bridges fund, it was a cut into the area of infrastructure that needs the greatest amount of work. In areas where bridges are out, it may take excessive time to travel which leads to a reduction in potential industry in areas that which desperately need job growth.

“Yet another example of the problem we’re facing is that we now have more than 900 emergency teaching certificates issued in Oklahoma. Our children are going to school and being taught by persons that don’t have the education necessary for the courses they are teaching. These are passionate people that want to do right by our children and their communities, but our refusal to pay a living wage and recruit quality teachers is a disservice to the next generation. Our children’s K-12 education affects their ability to get a good college education and go into the workforce prepared to face what life may throw at them. We are losing the ability for our children to get a quality education in our school system because we won’t fund the necessary areas to recruit teachers that are properly trained and certified.

“We need to have a meaningful budget that addresses the reality of our situation instead of continuing the pattern of corporate welfare benefitting a small group as opposed to the people of Oklahoma. This is not something any of us should expect out of this Governor and her Republican legislature – if it hasn’t happened yet, there’s no reason to think it’s going to happen in 2016.”

1. Perry, G. (2014, March 19). Poll: Support for tax cuts has dropped significantly. http://okpolicy.org/poll-support-tax-cuts-dropped-significantly

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16 Dec
0

Inman Contends State Revenue Failure Self-Inflicted

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Democratic Leader Scott Inman issued the following statement today after the Office of Management and Enterprise Services announced a state revenue failure requiring appropriated state agencies to take mid-year budget cuts, and reported that the budget hole next year will be almost $901 million.

“The Republican-controlled Legislature helped create this financial crisis by cutting over $1 billion in income taxes since 2004, coupled with enactment of nearly $2 billion in tax credits and exemptions.

Just a week ago Republican State Treasurer Ken Miller described repeated reductions in the state income tax as ‘devastatingly irresponsible’ considering the current funding status of core services.

Nevertheless, in two weeks Oklahoma will experience the first tax cut in state history to be enacted at a time of budget deficits. House Democrats tried repeatedly to postpone or repeal that tax cut, but every Republican in the House spurned our attempts.

The $188 million state budget gap of 2014 tripled to a budget deficit of $611 million in 2015, and the latest projection is a deficit that will be half again higher: $900.8 million.

The GOP-controlled Legislature began cutting core state services when oil was commanding $100 a barrel. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has had to slash $446 million from its budget in the past five years, adversely affecting low-income families and health care providers. Public education in Oklahoma has experienced the deepest cuts of any state in the nation.

Republicans campaigned on a platform of fiscal responsibility, but instead they have presided over fiscal insanity.

It’s long past time for this state’s Republican leaders to stop governing by a failed political philosophy and begin to govern with an understanding of political reality.

It’s disingenuous to wring one’s hands in despair when the house is on fire, if you helped light the match.”

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Mike W. Ray

Media Director, House Democratic Caucus

07 Dec
0

Welcome to Monet, Oklahoma

Welcome to Monet, Oklahoma

Perryman, DavidBy David Perryman, Oklahoma House of Representatives, District 56

Claude Monet painted in the 19th and 20th century and was among the leaders of the French Impressionist movement. Monet’s open air approach and the fact that he dwelt more on color and light than linear perspective resulted in a style of art that most believe is best viewed from a distance.
Not only does distance make the subject of the art appear more “whole,”, the distance separates the viewer from the more abstract components of the painting that are often described as rough swatches or loose splashes of color that appears somewhat disjointed on close inspection.
Appreciating a Monet from across the room is somewhat similar to checking one’s cattle from a mile high flyover. The cattle may or may not be there, but the view is sure nice.

Some folks regularly treat Oklahoma like a Monet. They allow urban legends and lofty statistics to tell them how good or how bad things really are in Oklahoma.

For instance, there is a temptation to feel good about the state when increases in per capita income are announced. Some of those “Monet” numbers tell us that during the 28 years from 1979 and 2007 the average income in Oklahoma rose 33.9%, just 3% behind the national income growth of all Americans during that same period.

However, the up close numbers show us that during that period and the next five years, the income of the top 1% of Oklahomans grew by 143.2% while the income of Oklahoma’s other 99% grew by only 8%. That means that of all income growth from 1979 to 2012, 67.9% of it went to the top 1% while all of the other 99% shared only 32.1% of the income growth during that period.

Today, on average, it takes $3.28 to purchase what we could purchase for $1.00 in 1979.

To put it in simpler terms, back in 1977, during my hamburger flipping days, a Sonic Burger cost 65 cents (and a dime extra for the cheese). Fries were 40 cents and a quarter bought a Coke on ice. Everything together was a bargain at $1.40. Today, that same combo costs $6.11, for an increase of 436%.

In 1977, a person earning the minimum wage of $2.30 per hour, had to work 36 minutes to purchase that Sonic Combo. Today, a minimum wage employee must work 51 minutes or 41% longer for that meal.

Monet, Oklahoma is really beautiful from a mile in the air, but caring enough to understand the real economic difficulties faced by working families who often don’t know where their next meal is coming from, are unable to afford medical care and don’t know if they will be able to keep their children warm tonight, requires routinely getting up close and personal.

There is no time like the present holiday season for us to make going outside our comfort zone a part of our lives.

Your comments are welcome at 1-800-522-8502 or at [email protected]

30 Nov
0

Statement on Native American Heritage Month

The Oklahoma Democratic Party released the following statement recognizing November as Native American Heritage month:

Native Americans are woven into the very fabric of everything that makes us Oklahoma. We reflect on the fact that Oklahoma’s statehood was established not as two independent states, but as one whole, to bring us together with Native Americans so that we would be stronger through the governance and rich traditions that had come before us. During the month of November we recognize the contributions Native Americans have made throughout our history and that have paved the way for a brighter future.

The Oklahoma Democratic Party vows to continue our work with tribal leaders to bring our state the prosperity we can achieve though hard work and inclusion. Together we can make possible the opportunities for every Oklahoman to have a future that allows all citizens the chance to build a life worthy of their hopes and dreams and that empowers the next generation of Native leaders.

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17 Nov
0

Oklahoma Democratic Party Welcomes Vice President Joe Biden to Oklahoma

Oklahoma Democrats from across the state will come together today to welcome Vice President Joe Biden to Tulsa for an afternoon reception. Although the Vice President could be many other places, he is taking the time to make a stop in Oklahoma in the midst of a hectic campaign season.

The Vice President is a visionary and one of the greatest progressive leaders of our time, never failing to demonstrate what true statesmanship looks like even in rough times. The work of the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden on behalf of all Americans is an example of what can be done when you have passion for what you do – even in politics.
The Oklahoma Democratic Party looks forward to the Vice President’s continued guidance for many years to come and hopes for the opportunity to bring him back to Oklahoma in the near future.

 

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