Friday, February 23, 2018

Map: OKGOP makes history, now leads in majority of counties


In this update to my Voter Registration Maps series, we're looking at majority/plurality party by county. As with every other voter registration map I've posted, this map has changed some since last year.

Republican majority: 27 counties (26 in 2017)
Republican plurality: 13 counties (11 in 2017)
Democratic majority: 29 counties (33 in 2017)
Democratic plurality: 8 counties (7 in 2017)

For the first time in history, Republicans now lead voter registration (either an outright majority or a plurality) in a majority of Oklahoma's 77 counties; the GOP leads in 40 counties. Just last January, it was the Democratic Party that lead in 40 counties.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Coburn headlining 'Growth and Opportunity Summit' in Tulsa Saturday

AFP Co-Hosts 2018 Growth and Opportunity Summit in Tulsa Saturday
Dr. Tom Coburn to headline conference

TULSA, Okla.—The 2018 Growth and Opportunity (GO) Summit is coming to Tulsa this Saturday, Feb. 24 at the DoubleTree Hotel in South Tulsa. The event will be headlined by a keynote address from former U.S. Senator Dr. Tom Coburn.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Coburn address this year’s Growth and Opportunity Summit,” said. AFP-OK State Director John Tidwell. “Things are moving quickly at the State Capitol and the GO Summit provides an opportunity for citizens and voters to learn more about what the state legislature is up to and how they can impact lawmakers when they engage on issues.”

Among other learning opportunities available at the GO Summit, Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs Executive Vice President Trent England will give a lunch presentation on the Oklahoma Constitution, the longest state constitution in the country, and how the state can follow the law and best serve taxpayers. Rounding out the day will be a legislative roundtable with current members of the state legislature on the state budget “crisis” and what comes next for our state budget after the failure of the Step Up plan.

In between speakers will be breakout sessions that will provide a more detailed picture of issues that are being talked about at our State Capitol. These breakout sessions include:

  • Hollywood Handouts: Even in Oklahoma Hollywood is gobbling up tax credits. Where is the money going and what to we do about it?
  • Fact or Fiction: The Oklahoma Budget
  • Occupational Licensing 101: I need a license to do that?
  • Impacting your legislator: How to cut through the clutter and best communicate with your legislator.
  • Healthcare and Medicaid Reforms: How we can audit and right size our system through common sense reforms.
  • Inside the Oklahoma Education Funding Formula: What goes into the formula, what comes out and all the nonsense in-between.

The 2018 Growth and Opportunity Summit is presented by Americans For Prosperity-OK, Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs and Tulsa 912. For more information or to register for the conference please visit okgrowthsummit.com. Registration will also be available the day of the event.

For further information or an interview, reach John Tidwell at jtidwell@afphq.org or (918) 606-1182. 

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) exists to recruit, educate, and mobilize citizens in support of the policies and goals of a free society at the local, state, and federal level, helping every American live their dream – especially the least fortunate. AFP has more than 3.2 million activists across the nation, a local infrastructure that includes 36 state chapters, and has received financial support from more than 100,000 Americans in all 50 states. For more information, visit www.AmericansForProsperity.org

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Oklahoma Voter Registration Map, January 2018

In the latest installment of my long-running Voter Registration Maps series, we will once again take a look at voter registration across the state.

(click image to view larger)
Republicans continue making gains across the state, and now sit at 46.75% of all registered voters. Democrats are now at 38.18%, with Independents at 14.82%, and Libertarians at 0.243%.

Republicans went up 0.99%, Independents went up 0.2%, Libertarians went up 0.06%, and Democrats dropped 1.25%, for a net swing to the GOP of 2.24%.

Republicans took the lead in Mayes County, where they led by 5 registered voters (0.02%) as of January 15th, as well as in Osage and Washita Counties.

The next counties likely to fall to the GOP are Garvin (1.93% Democrat lead), Comanche (3.6% Democrat lead), Carter (5.2% Democrat lead), and Rogers Mills (6.33% Democrat lead).

Monday, February 19, 2018

House Dems respond to newest budget cuts


House Democrats Respond to Newest Round of Budget Cuts

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Steve Kouplen, on behalf of the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus, has released the following statement on the $44 million worth of budget cuts passed on the House floor Monday:

“It is unconscionable that the Republican leadership in the House has led the state to the point where further cuts to the current year budget are inevitable. Today, the House sent $44 million worth of cuts to be approved by the Senate. We firmly believe that there are still options on the table to bring in a small portion of revenue for this year and put the state on a better path forward beginning the next fiscal year.

The House Democratic Caucus stands ready to commit all 28 of our votes to a bipartisan revenue package that includes the Republican Party’s cigarette and motor fuel taxes -- along with our original request to increase the incentive gross production tax to 5 percent that has now garnered support from State Auditor Gary Jones and the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs. This package, coupled with the Senate passing the itemized deduction cap from 2017, would allow us to close the upcoming budget hole and provide teachers and state employees with a raise. With 100 percent of our caucus supporting, we would only need 48 Republicans, or 66 percent of the caucus, to pass this plan.

As we have mentioned in the past, it seems that the Republican Caucus is more worried about political cover while cutting agencies than actually finding a solution. Otherwise, we would be voting on revenue packages regularly until we find a combination that works.

Our fear is that as the race for the next Speaker of the House continues to heat up, we will continue to see fewer options for revenue and more of the same fiscal policy that has plagued this state for the last decade. Nevertheless, the House Democratic Caucus stands ready to negotiate at any time to prevent budget cuts and provide the revenue necessary for a teacher and state employee pay raise.”

OCPA column: A Better Plan

A Better Plan
by OCPA President Jonathan Small

It’s easy for insiders to support tax increases–much easier than it is for low- and middle-income families and small businesses to pay higher taxes.

That’s why the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs has offered a revenue and reform plan. Our plan even received the endorsement of former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.

What’s missing from our plan? A messy income tax hike on those who can’t afford it. Included is the same $5,000 teacher pay raise that big government advocates keep using for their bait-and-switch games. It’s time to give teachers the pay raises they deserve and stop the rest of the bureaucracy from using teachers as pawns while state agencies refuse to reform.

“It’s time for the circus to end,” Sen. Coburn said, noting that “teachers, the most vulnerable, working Oklahomans, and small businesses are being held captive and will suffer damaging tax increases that will harm families and ruin future efforts for pro-growth tax reform.”

Our alternative plan would set gross production taxes to 5 percent on new wells for 36 months. It would increase cigarette taxes by 75 cents a pack. Wind tax credits would be capped at $10 million. Voters would be asked to approve shifting new settlement payments from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust to the state’s Medicaid program, surely a worthy way to spend money earmarked for health. And, the Indian tribes would be asked to forgo $67 million in rebates on tobacco sales since they are also citizens of Oklahoma.

Those measures would pump $505.4 million into the state treasury to fund a $5,000 teacher pay raise. They wouldn’t make the tax code more complex or make revenue promises that are unlikely to materialize. And, they avoid burdening most families and working Oklahomans with more taxes.

If lawmakers are dead set on raising taxes, at least they should do it in the least damaging way. The more challenging but vital work remains: reforming and restructuring state government to prevent this annual exercise in panic budgeting from ever happening again.

We could start with rigorous audits of every state agency, questioning outcomes rather than just accounting for inputs, and by passing some real reforms like work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid recipients and allowing schools to use local revenues for top priorities like teacher pay. We should also end Oklahoma's Hollywood film handout that paid millions to Harvey Weinstein.

As Sen. Coburn said, “It’s time for politicians to do their number one job, which is tough and accountable oversight.”

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Rick Santorum endorses Coleman for Congress

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum Endorses Andy Coleman for Congress
Calls Coleman a Committed Conservative and National Security Leader

TULSA, OKLAHOMA: Today former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) endorsed Captain Andy Coleman for the open congressional seat in Oklahoma’s First District.

“Andy Coleman is exactly what Washington needs more of; a committed conservative with the foreign policy and national security experience necessary to make a real difference.  I served for eight years on the Senate Armed Services committee and saw first-hand the need for more veterans with real-world, on the ground experience in foreign affairs in the halls of Washington. Andy Coleman has the experience needed to be a leader on day one and as a defender of persecuted Christians in some of the most dangerous hot-spots in the world; I know he will never back down on his conservative values,” stated Santorum.

Santorum ran for the Republican nomination for President in 2012 and carried the state of Oklahoma in the Republican primary that year.  Every county in Oklahoma’s First Congressional District was carried by Santorum in 2012.

“I am truly honored and incredibly grateful to Senator Santorum for his support.  He has been a reliable defender of religious freedom, the innocent unborn and a leader on national security,” expressed Coleman.

Santorum’s endorsement comes on the heels of a surge of support for Coleman as he assembles a coalition of religious and national security conservatives drawn to his unique background and life experiences. 

Captain Andy Coleman is seeking the Republican nomination for the open congressional seat in Oklahoma’s First District.  He is an Air Force Academy graduate and former intelligence officer who served in the Middle East.  He is the only candidate in the race with military and national security experience – critical skill sets in short supply in the House.  For six years, Coleman led efforts to aid persecuted Christians in 17 hostile and restricted countries, as the Middle East Regional Director for the Voice of the Martyrs, a Christian ministry based in Bartlesville.

Music Monday: The Olympic Spirit

In honor of the 2018 Winter Olympics going on in Pyeongchang, South Korea, this week's Music Monday is The Olympic Spirit by American composer John Williams.


Enjoy!

See below for all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to suggest for a future Music Monday? Email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

February 12th, 2018: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
January 29th, 2018: Hail to the Chief
January 23rd, 2018: Waltz in A-Flat Major, Op. 39 No. 15
January 15th, 2018: Bleed The Same
January 8th, 2018: Saint-Saëns' Symphony No.3 'Organ' (Maestoso)
December 25th, 2017: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 18th, 2017: I Saw Three Ships (The Piano Guys)
December 11th, 2017:Who Is He In Yonder Stall
December 4th, 2017: Carol of the Bells (Mannheim Steamroller)
November 27th, 2017: Joy to the World!
November 20th, 2017: We Gather Together
November 13th, 2017: Mansions of the Lord
November 6th, 2017: Träumerei
October 30th: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 23rd, 2017: In Christ Alone
October 16th, 2017: When I'm Knee Deep In Bluegrass
October 9th, 2017: I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb
October 2nd, 2017: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major (Brahms)
September 25th, 2017: Beethoven's Sonata No. 8 in C minor ('Pathétique')
September 11th, 2017: Have You Forgotten?
September 4th, 2017: Bach's Double Violin Concerto
August 28th, 2017: Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord
August 21st, 2017: The Heavens Are Telling The Glory of God
August 14th, 2017: Beethoven's 5th Symphony
August 7th, 2017: 'Lift High The Name Of Jesus' medley
July 31st, 2017: Fanfare for the Common Man
July 24th, 2017: Variations on 'Happy Birthday'
July 10th, 2017: Summer (Presto) from Vivaldi's Four Seasons
July 3rd, 2017: Freelance Fireworks Hall of Fame
June 26th, 2017: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
June 19th, 2017: A Christian Home
June 12th, 2017: Ol' Man River
June 5th, 2017: Choctaw Cowboy
May 29th, 2017: Armed Forces Salute
May 22nd, 2017: Double Bass Concerto No.2 in B minor
May 15th, 2017: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D major
May 8th, 2017: The Army Goes Rolling Along
April 17th, 2017: He Is Alive
April 10th, 2017: Surely He Hath Borne/And With His Stripes/All We Like Sheep
April 3rd, 2017: Here Comes Carolina
March 27th, 2017: 'Spring' from Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons'
March 20th, 2017: Symphony No. 5 ("Reformation") Finale
March 13th, 2017: The Pigeon on the Gate
March 6th, 2017: Finlandia
February 27th, 2017: When I Can Read My Title Clear
February 20th, 2017: William Tell Overture - Finale
February 13th, 2017: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'
February 6th, 2017: White Winter Hymnal
January 30th, 2017: Hail, Columbia
January 23rd, 2017: Hail to the Chief
January 16th, 2017: Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
January 2nd, 2017: Auld Lang Syne
December 26th, 2016: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
December 19th, 2016: I Wonder as I Wander
December 12th, 2016: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
December 5th, 2016: A Christmas Festival
November 28th, 2016: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
November 21st: Beethoven's 'Hymn of Thanksgiving'
November 14th: Hymn to the Fallen
November 7th: This World Is Not My Home
October 31st, 2016: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 24th, 2016: 'Mars', from 'The Planets'
October 17th, 2016: My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
October 10th, 2016: Spain
October 3rd, 2016: International Harvester
September 26th, 2016: 'The Imperial March' from Star Wars
September 19th, 2016: Awake the Trumpet's Lofty Sound
September 12th, 2016: Before the Throne of God Above
September 5th, 2016: The Hunt
August 29th, 2016: Liberty
August 22nd, 2016: Summon the Heroes
August 15th, 2016: Bugler's Dream
August 8th, 2016: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
August 1st, 2016: 'Prelude' and 'Parade of the Charioteers' from Ben-Hur
July 25th, 2016: How The West Was Won
July 18th, 2016: Six Studies in English Folk Song
July 11th, 2016: From Everlasting To Everlasting
July 4th, 2016: The Stars and Stripes Forever
June 27th, 2016: Rule, Britannia!
June 20st, 2016: Bugler's Holiday
June 13th, 2016: Ride of the Valkyries
June 6th, 2016: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, Allegro Vivace
May 30th, 2016: Armed Forces Salute
May 23rd, 2016: Paid in Full (Through Jesus, Amen)
May 16th, 2016: Overture from 'Carmen'
May 9th, 2016: L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1 - Prelude
May 2nd, 2016: My God Is a Rock
April 25th, 2016: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
April 18th, 2016: Paganini's Caprice No. 24 in A Minor
April 11th, 2016: Fantasia on a 17th Century Tune
April 4th, 2016: Hark The Sound/I'm a Tarheel Born
March 28th, 2016: Rustle of Spring
March 21st, 2016: 'Ode to Joy' sung by a 10,000-voice choir
March 14th, 2016: Hard Times Come Again No More
March 7th, 2016: 'The Suite' from Downton Abbey
February 29th, 2016: Moonlight Sonata
February 22nd, 2016: Liebestraum No. 3
February 15th, 2016: Help Is On The Way
February 8th, 2016: God of Grace and God of Glory
February 1st, 2016: 'My Story'
January 25th, 2016: Israeli Concertino
January 18th, 2016: What Grace is Mine
January 11th, 2016: "Meditation" from Thaïs
January 4th, 2016: Praeludium and Allegro
December 28th, 2015: Appalachian Carol
December 21st, 2015: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 14th, 2015: O Holy Night
December 7th, 2015: Christmas Fantasy
November 23rd, 2015: Simple Gifts
November 16th, 2015: Preacher Tell Me Like It Is
November 9th, 2015: Armed Forces Salute
November 2nd, 2015: Amazing Grace
October 26th, 2015: The Harmonious Blacksmith
October 19th, 2015: Liberty Fanfare
October 12th, 2015: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name
October 5th, 2015: Elgar's 'Enigma' Finale
September 28th, 2015: Stayed on Jesus
September 21st, 2015: Great Gate of Kiev
September 14th, 2015: Nearer, My God, To Thee

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Coleman calls for 5 debates in CD1 GOP Primary


Coleman Encourages a Series of Five Debates Prior to the June U.S. House Primary

TULSA, OKLAHOMA:  Captain Andy Coleman today issued a call for all Republican candidates running for the GOP nomination in the First District U.S. House race to join him for a series of public debates in advance of the June primary.

Coleman is the first candidate in the race to publicly call for debates and encouraged his fellow Republicans to join him for debates around the First District.

“In order to drain the swamp in Washington, we need elected officials who are accountable and willing to answer the tough questions. I believe that if we expect voters to put their confidence in us, we should look them in the eye and answer the hard questions,” stated Coleman.

Coleman encouraged media and civic organizations to sponsor a series of at least five debates.  “Candidate forums are helpful, but debates are even more so.  With multiple candidate schedules to coordinate, it is important this process begin early.  Several organizations are already considering holding debates, and I’m grateful for their efforts.  I’m hopeful my fellow candidates will join me in participating in as many debates as possible,” added Coleman.

Captain Andy Coleman is seeking the Republican nomination for the open congressional seat in Oklahoma’s First District.  He is an Air Force Academy graduate and former intelligence officer who served in the Middle East.  He is the only candidate in the race with military, national security and experience working in the Muslim world – critical skill sets in short supply in the U.S. Congress. For six years, Coleman led extensive field efforts in some of the world’s most hostile countries to aid persecuted Christians as the the Middle East Regional Director for the Voice of the Martyrs, a Christian ministry based in Bartlesville. 

Coburn Joins Conservative Legislators in Proposing State Budget Reforms


Coburn Joins Conservative Legislators in Proposing State Budget Reforms

OKLAHOMA CITY – Several conservative Republican State Representatives today joined with former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn in proposing a path to a teacher pay raise without a tax increase.  The statement is below.

We appreciate the members of Step Up Oklahoma for their civic leadership in addressing the issue of balancing our state budget, raising teacher pay and reforming state government processes. We share their goals. We want to provide teachers a $5,000 pay raise and are confident there will be a permanent teacher pay raise this year with or without a tax increase. We also must balance our budget, which will also happen with or without a tax increase. And, we agree with reforming state government to cut out wasteful spending.

We agree with most of the means chosen by Step Up Oklahoma to accomplish these goals: cutting wasteful subsidies to industrial wind companies; allowing the governor to appoint agency directors, and several of the other ideas furthered by Step Up Oklahoma.

We also believe that the people of Oklahoma are rightly suspicious of state government.  The Health Department scandal shows that there still is a great deal of wasteful spending, “bloat” and “mission creep,” and even corruption in state spending.

The Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) has over 1,200 employees who are supposed to catch such wasteful spending and root it out, but they failed.  Recently, the whistleblower in the Health Department scandal accused former OMES Director and Gov. Fallin’s Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger of grand jury tampering and witness intimidation. If this is how the head of OMES treats whistleblowers, it begs the question:  how many other whistleblowers have been discouraged from bringing wasteful spending to light?

Before raising taxes on Oklahomans, we must make sure state government is spending current tax money wisely, with real performance audits.  But a bill to empower the State Auditor’s Office to conduct real performance audits on agencies was vetoed by Gov. Fallin at Doerflinger’s request.

There are many ways to balance the budget and give teachers a $5,000 pay raise, the combined cost of which is about $760 million. Just last Thursday, it was announced that state revenue is up $812.5 million over last year due to the improving economy.

Moreover, a bill held over from last year, for Medicaid audits, would remove people no longer eligible for Medicaid in Oklahoma.  This one bill would generate savings of at least $86 million, and as Arkansas’ recent experience shows, more likely up to $240 million, which savings could be applied to more efficient uses in our budget.

Cutting out corporate welfare subsidies to the wind industry, often owned by foreign companies, could generate up to $172 million annually.

Using existing funds from the Commissioners of the Land Office could also provide additional millions for a teacher pay raise, without reducing any current payments to school districts and without dipping into the current principal corpus of the School Land Trust.

The Legislature could right now afford the $760 million needed for a $5,000 teacher pay raise and balance the budget without a tax increase.

And there’s more. For each $1 allowed in the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit, $2.58 is generated for scholarships and $1.24 is saved for the state budget, due to leveraging private donations for education. We should increase the current cap on such scholarship credits.

Up to $95 million of annual revenue from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) is currently used on such wasteful things such as ads for smoke-free strip clubs and drag shows, and billboards against soda pop. These funds could be rerouted to more efficient uses, also.  This reform would require a vote of the people.

School districts could be allowed flexibility to use any part of their property tax revenue on teacher pay if they wished, instead of being restricted to current uses such as buildings. This reform also would require a vote of the people.

Administration costs in our state’s colleges are 70 percent higher than the national average. Reducing such administrative costs to the national average would save the state over $300 million per year.  Currently, legislators are prohibited from making such line-item appropriations to the Regents for Higher Education.  A vote of the people would be required to allow line-items on the Regents’ budget.

There are many ways to reform our education system to make sure more of our tax dollars are going to teacher pay, rather than to excessive administration and other non-teacher costs.

Bills on all these topics have been introduced this session, but are awaiting committee hearings.

“For too long, bureaucrats have grown Oklahoma state government without being audited.  The sensible reforms offered here will help raise teacher pay and right-size Oklahoma’s government without a tax increase.  Medicaid audits, eliminating corporate wind subsidies, TSET reform, and better use of funds from the Commissioners of the Land Office are common-sense proposals that are long overdue,” Coburn said.

Let’s demand performance audits on the agencies and schools and cut out the waste before we increase taxes. We can still give a $5000 pay raise to teachers and balance the budget in the meantime.

Republican Lawmakers who are a part of this plan include:

Rep. Kevin Calvey
Rep. Scott McEachin
Rep. Bobby Cleveland
Rep. Kevin West
Rep. John Bennett
Rep. George Faught
Rep. Tom Gann
Rep. Rick West
Rep. Jeff Coody
Rep. Mike Ritze

Bunny Chambers endorses Cathy Costello


GOP LEADER, BUNNY CHAMBERS, ENDORSES CATHY COSTELLO FOR LABOR COMMISSIONER

    The former President of the conservative Oklahoma Eagle Forum, Bunny Chambers, is endorsing Cathy Costello in her campaign for Oklahoma State Labor Commissioner.

    “Cathy Costello is a woman of principles and principles are critically important for a Labor Commissioner,” Bunny Chambers says.  “Costello will be a Labor Commissioner who is evenhanded and fair - never vindictive in the application of the law.  The wrong person in that position could wield a great deal of power against well-meaning employers who disagree on certain policies. Oklahoma must have a Labor Commissioner who can exercise professional restraint and objective judgement in any situation.  Her decades of running successful businesses makes Cathy Costello the ideal conservative to be Oklahoma’s next Labor Commissioner.”

    In addition to leading the Oklahoma Eagle Forum, Bunny Chambers also was state leader of the Pro-Family Forum and National Committeewoman to the Republican National Convention.

    “Bunny Chambers has a national reputation as a dedicated and principled conservative,“ says Cathy Costello. “That is why I consider this endorsement to be a tremendous honor. A Labor Commissioner should always execute the duties of the office without bias or personal agenda. I want voters to know my conscious will never be a casualty of political expediency.”

    Cathy Costello is a co-founder of several domestic and international businesses and is a sought-after national speaker and advocate on issues of mental health. Costello has been instrumental in passing major landmark state and federal legislation to improve how employers address mental health needs in the workplace.

       The Republican primary for Labor Commissioner is scheduled for June 26, 2018 and the general election will be held November 6, 2018.

    For more information on Cathy Costello's campaign for Oklahoma Labor Commissioner, visit her website at www.CostelloForOK.com.