Oklahoma is facing the worst budget shortfalls in decades. Schools across our state are scrambling to balance our budgets for this year and for next. Some rural hospitals and nursing homes may have to shut down.
Gov. Mary Fallin, who our state elected to office five years ago, has recently unveiled a plan to deal with this fiasco by selling $500 million in bonds to fund road projects and expanding sales taxes on luxury items like NBA ticket, on advertising and on sales of items to commercial airliners. It seems to us that none of these are particularly stable sources of revenue, and the payday loan approach to funding the state is particularly nefarious.
As you read the stories and watch the videos linked above, notice that nowhere does she mention steep tax cuts and incentives to corporations and the wealthy as part of the reason we’re in our current crisis. Nor does she mention that our state, our nation has been warned in recent years that the tax cut approach to prosperity doesn’t work.
There is no admission of culpability. The blame for our current state of woe is laid squarely a the feet of the downturn in oil prices (Could we not see this coming after the 1980s oil bust?) while other causes are merely implied.
We aren’t the only ones concerned.
Oklahoma Legislators React To Gov. Mary Fallin’s New Budget Proposal
“She apparently thinks you can borrow your way out of debt,” said Representative Scott Inman (D) House Minority Leader, “And then a raise in taxes by eliminating the earned income tax credit, the child care tax credit. So she wants us to take us into further debt and raise taxes on working class and middle class families who are just trying to get by.”
What also concerns us the most is the fact that Oklahoma is not alone.
Oklahoma is not alone
Consider the following report from March of this year on the state of the crisis in Louisiana. The report starts out talking about the amazing talent of a young Louisiana football player, but quickly segues into the main story which highlights the possibility that state universities, hospice care, and college football may be on the chopping block in the state.
How did we get here?
Would you believe that one organization, known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is behind much of this drama?
ALEC is an “ultra-conservative anti-taxation group” that writes model legislation that our Senators and Representatives can bring back to our states and push through our legislatures.
ALEC’s agenda includes:
- Cutting personal taxes for som in “trickle down” economic scheme (See ALEC state tax cut report)
- Limiting worker rights under guise of “Right-To-Work” legislation (See ALEC spin)
- Privatizing k-12 schools and higher education under “school choice” veil (See what ALEC plans)
What do we do now?
Now that we know who is behind the budget crises across out nation, what can we do?
- Do your research and vote for people who are not beholden to ALEC or other groups who wish to dismantle and privatize public goods.
- Write your legislators to let then know what you think about specific pieces of legislation they are debating or voting on.
- Join our conversation.
- Run for office.