Friday, September 22, 2017

Turner's 'Conservative View': A Dollar Store Calculator


I have found that one of the handiest things a person can own is a thing that many of us take for granted; a simple hand held calculator can prevent anyone from making a mistake on one’s checkbook when deducting the amounts when we pay our bills. I can remember when calculators first came out they were very expensive, years ago a simple one would set you back $50.00 or more. Now you can go to the local Dollar Tree store and buy a very good one for one dollar. With all of the talk about the special session of the legislature, I think it would be a good idea for all of our legislators and our governor to make a trip to the local Dollar Tree and purchase one. For less than $200.00 each lawmaker could have his or her very own calculator to check the math on the bills they will be voting on. I recently read an article about a fee that will be placed on child support payments in our state, in the next paragraph I will share what has been told to the citizens and I will use my little one dollar calculator to check their math.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is ready to begin assessing a 3 percent fee on child support payments, which they say is expected to generate about $1 million to balance its budget. These collections are handled by Child Support Services, a division of DHS. According to the article the fee will begin October 1st and be capped at $10 per month; this fee is in addition to an annual $25 fee once $500 in support is collected and issued to the custodial person. For example, if a custodial person receives $300 a month, after the fee that person now will receive $291 a month.  It needs to be noted that Gov. Mary Fallin approved the new fee at the end of the latest legislative session. According to the agency the money goes toward offsetting the cost of the collection program. It is also claimed that projections show that the average cost will be $4.31 per month and 78,000 cases are subject to the fee. While that all sounds good, get your calculators out and check the math.

We are told that $1 Million will be raised to support the program. If 78,000 cases are subject to the fee multiply 78,000 by $4.31 average cost by 12 months. The answer is $4,034,160 in my book that is just a little over the $1 million we were told it would generate. If it is a $10 fee then 78,000 X $10 X 12 = $9,360,000. The people of Oklahoma are being led to believe that the cost will only be 1 million dollars; in reality at least 4 million dollars will come out of the economy.  This is just one example how government grows into the monster it has become. Once any agency has a revenue stream it will never go down and they will scream to the high heavens to maintain it. During the last session of the legislature far too many of our elected officials spent all of their time coming up with schemes to raise more money. The passing of fees in our state has become nothing short of a plague upon society. It has gotten to the point where I just hate to see the legislature convene, for I know all of us who pay taxes are going to be hit. Instead of just rubber stamping fees like the one I just illustrated, those little Dollar Tree calculators might be a good thing to have in the future.

Russell Turner is a businessman, farmer, and conservative Republican activist from Adair County, where he served one term as county commissioner. Russell has written his weekly column, 'The Conservative View', for many years. If you wish to contact him or subscribe to his weekly email list, he can be reached at

Gov. Fallin: "I will veto" special session cuts to state agencies

Governor Mary Fallin Statement on Upcoming Special Session

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today issued the following statement on the upcoming special session of the Oklahoma Legislature, which is scheduled to get underway Monday:

“This special session is an opportunity for lawmakers to solve lingering, critical structural problems in our state budget. I am hopeful lawmakers will consider thoughtful, realistic solutions in a timely manner. Many ideas have been fully vetted over the past couple of legislative sessions, so it really should be a matter of taking care of unfinished business.

“Certainly, the most pressing need is to address the immediate budget shortfall created by the loss of the $215 million cigarette fee revenue. The cigarette tax alone will not fill this year’s hole because it would be implemented much later in the fiscal year than originally proposed. We will need to identify other revenue sources to make up the difference. If we do not, additional cuts to core government services will occur.

“Additional cuts to agencies will further harm state services. I will veto a proposal that calls for cuts to state agencies. Also, sending the cigarette tax to a vote of the people is not an option. The earliest the issue could be decided by voters is June, the last month of the current fiscal year. It doesn’t fix the budget hole because it would not generate any revenue for this fiscal year.

“I hope lawmakers do provide a long-term solution to the state’s continuing budget shortfalls. It is apparent that rapid changes in our economy have created unsustainable and unpredictable revenue collection patterns. We need to seek long-term sustainability and stability as opposed to unpredictability and volatility. Our legislators must work to make more recurring revenue available, stop balancing our budget with one-time funds and come up with a teacher pay raise.  Because of the use of one-time funds to balance this year’s budget, we are anticipating a $500 million shortfall next year. The limited focus and attention of a special session can allow us to address these long-term structural issues.

“My staff and I have been talking for many weeks with legislative leaders from both parties, and I will continue to work with them until an agreement is reached. Our challenges in front of us are difficult, but I am hopeful that, with great resolve and statesmanship, we will succeed.”

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Jones proposes tax compromise for budget solution

GOP gubernatorial candidate and State Auditor Gary Jones is out with a proposal for balancing the state budget:

State Auditor Gary Jones proposes a 5% GPT [Gross Production Tax] for first three years and 5% GPT after 3 years. Jones says this should be a part of an agreement to raise tobacco tax and make gasoline and diesel taxes $0.20 across the board. He also proposes an additional 2% on GPT when prices are higher to go into an educational stabilization fund and the rainy day fund.

The plan will raise about $500,000,000 annually and it will leverage another $300,000,000 federally. Jones' plan will fill the current budget hole and fund a much needed teacher's pay raise.

In response to a question on his post, Jones also made this statement: "I believe we can reduce about $300-$400 million in waste and inefficiencies. That with the revenue increase is what is necessary to fill the $900 million shortfall."

The current gasoline and diesel taxes are 17¢ and 14¢ per gallon, respectively. Only South Carolina and Alaska have lower gasoline taxes, and only Alaska has a lower tax on diesel. Texas currently charges 20¢ per gallon on each.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Congressman Russell endorses Lamb for Governor

Rep. Steve Russell endorses Lamb for Governor

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – September 18, 2017 – Republican gubernatorial candidate Todd Lamb announced today he has received the endorsement of Fifth District U.S. Representative Steve Russell (R - Oklahoma City). The Fifth Congressional District encompasses Oklahoma, Pottawatomie and Seminole counties, including the cities of Oklahoma City, Edmond and Shawnee.  

"I have seen firsthand the proven leadership and talent of Todd Lamb when we served together in the state Senate,” Congressman Russell said. “His organizational skill, vision and great way with people made him an incredible floor leader in a very divided Senate. Todd is selfless, has a great moral compass and was willing to lay down his life for others as a United States Secret Service agent.  He has my vote, complete trust and confidence as Oklahoma's next governor."

Lamb said, “I am honored to earn the endorsement of Congressman Russell and appreciate the manner in which he represents the Fifth District in Washington, D.C.  He has never shied away from his conservative principles; the same principles that guide me on a daily basis, and that will define my gubernatorial administration.  Steve Russell has earned the respect of his constituents and conservative colleagues in the U.S. House, and I am excited to count him as a member of my campaign team.”

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Death of Honor in the GOP

Being a Republican used to mean something. A higher standard of conduct was demanded and expected. Honesty and integrity were commonplace. We policed our own. We were "the Party of Family Values".

Looking at the news today, one can witness the death of honor in the Republican Party.

It's indicative of the culture at large, in one sense. A society that increasingly rejects God and His standards will elect men and women who do the same. To paraphrase Scripture, they profess one thing with their lips but prove another with their actions. However, our inherently sinful nature does not excuse wrong actions.

Here are just a few examples I'm thinking of.

Republicans in Congress spent seven years claiming they would "Repeal and Replace" ObamaCare as soon as they were given control of the U.S. House U.S. Senate White House. American voters gave them everything they asked for, but when the time came, they were unprepared and unwilling to do what they had promised to do for seven years and four election cycles. They lied to the American public. They said what they needed to in order to get elected, never intending to actually follow through, otherwise they would have been prepared to act when they time came.

You can even look at the nomination of Donald Trump, a man with a crude and immoral past, who exhibited no change on the campaign trail, belittling and demeaning those who opposed him, and who fabricated and circulated false and (to be honest) slanderous quotes and stories about his GOP competitors.

Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin made a pledge to run for only three terms in Congress. He repeated that promise numerous times and through his re-election campaigns. Now, he brazenly breaks it without remorse, and expects us to be fine with it.

Republicans in the Oklahoma Legislature have seen unprecedented scandal and outrage in the past two years, and last eight months in particular. A state representative resigned after allegations he sexual harassed his assistant. A full ten percent of the State Senate GOP caucus has left office for crimes: one state senator went to federal prison for embezzlement of nearly two million dollars, another is likely going to prison for a very long time due to child prostitution and child porn, another broke campaign finance laws by embezzling $100,000 from his campaign for his private use, and another just resigned and was charged with sexual battery after previously getting in trouble for drinking and driving. The governor's chief finance officer has had repeated drunk driving charges, and still holds his position. Several former legislators have had run-ins with the law, or are rumored to have not sought re-election in order to avoid scandal coming to light.

Three other state representatives ran for office, only to turn around and resign to take private sector jobs within as little as 24 days of being re-elected. They spent time and money asking voters to elect them to represent them, then spurned that duty in favor of greener pastures. They thus denied their constituents of the representation they voted for and cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars by causing special elections.

Republican candidates (nationwide and in Oklahoma) spend millions of dollars on the campaign trail touting conservative principles, only to betray those values when they get in office. The pressure from leadership, lobbyists, and groups desperate for more government taxpayer money, along with the siren call of power, is too much for them to withstand. They take the easy road, tossing aside their campaign rhetoric (which they neither believed nor intended to keep) -- and along with it what voters expected them to do based on what they were promised.

All of this, and Republican Party leaders and elected officials (by and large) just shrug, and say "well, look at the Democrats."  That's not good enough. The Party of personal responsibility needs some serious self-examination. Democrats aren't the ones who have been in the Oklahoma news these last two years with scandal after scandal. Democrats get in Congress and do what they said they would do.

The responsibility doesn't lie solely with the candidates and elected officials; we, the voters share some of that blame, because we've fallen for the slick campaigning and elected and re-elected these individuals. "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

The Republican Party needs to clean up house from top to bottom. If the elected officials won't do it, then Party officials need to speak up. The silence has been deafening.

Voters have a responsibility to weigh the actions of each elected official against what they pledged to do and against what they ought to do, and throw them out if they fail to match the standard. If we don't do our duty, we can expect the Republican house to begin to crumble.

Friday, September 15, 2017

OKGOP's Carolyn McLarty announces for SD27 special election

Hat-tip to Kenny Bob Tapp for this great news:

Carolyn McLarty Announces Run For State Senate District 27

“It’s time to stop talking and start DOING! It is time to put the principles of good government to work. I am prepared to do this; I have the knowledge, experience and the proven conservative track record needed to be an effective State Senator. I am reliable and I am passionate about what is best for the people of District 27. With the current budget crisis in our state and multiple challenges in the economy, education, and health care, we need assertive and faithful leadership to bring opportunities for stability and prosperity back to Oklahoma,” McLarty said.

Dr. Carolyn McLarty is a retired veterinarian, who operated the Animal Care Clinic in Woodward for 20 years. Since 2008 she has served as the Republican National Committeewoman for Oklahoma. In this position, she has represented our state’s conservative values consistently. She has demonstrated her ability to effectively lead while serving on the RNC Executive Committee and as Chairman of the Resolutions Committee.

She believes that upholding conservative principles is vital for our leaders. “Leading based upon our moral compass and guiding faith can thwart pressure from outside influences. When we make decisions based upon our faith and values, we can build a safer more prosperous state for our children; a state where they can thrive and raise their own families with a higher quality of life,” McLarty said.

A strong proponent for education, and the quality of education our children receive, McLarty fought to encourage development of excellent new standards for Oklahoma education to replace Common Core. “It is vital that we provide our children the best education that we can. Education for good citizenship is imperative for a government “by the people.” Further, quality education ensures that our children can aspire to higher goals, and enrich the State with their talents,” McLarty said.

“Through my experience in the Republican National Committee, I have worked hard to create win-win outcomes between the establishment and the grassroots. I can work in the State Senate to pass legislation that ensures that our state government serves the people of the entire Senate District 27 from Northwestern Oklahoma to the end of the Panhandle. I will fight hard to encourage legislation that enables our conservative principles and values to bring security, liberty, and prosperity to the District. As a sovereign state, we must push back the encroachment of the Federal Government into state government functions,” McLarty emphasized.

Carolyn McLarty has been married to Tom for 42 years. Together they have three children and three grandchildren. She served on the Board of Directors at the Pregnancy Center in Woodward for nine years. She also served as President of the Northwest Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association, was Chairman of the Board of the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority Board, Board Member of Eagle Forum, a national conservative pro-life organization and was a delegate/alternate to the Republican National Conventions for the past five Presidential elections.

Fallin officially calls Special Session

Governor Mary Fallin Calls Special Session to Deal with Budget Shortfall, Government Inefficiencies and Teacher Pay Increases

OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Mary Fallin today issued an executive order calling for a special session of the Oklahoma Legislature for lawmakers to address the shortfall in the current fiscal year budget as well as develop long-term solutions to government inefficiencies and fund a pay increase for public school teachers.

The governor called for the first extraordinary session of the 56th Legislature to convene Monday, Sept. 25.

Fallin recommended lawmakers:

  • Address the immediate budget shortfall created by the loss of the $215 million cigarette fee revenue.
  • Have the option to address a long-term solution to continuing budget shortfalls.
  • Address the need for more consolidation and other efficiencies in all areas of state government.
  • Clarify intended exemptions to the new 1.25 percent sales tax on vehicles. 
  • Address a needed pay increase for K-12 public school teachers.

“Urgent action is needed,” said Fallin. “Lawmakers need to come together quickly to fill this fiscal year’s budget hole so our citizens can be assured they will receive necessary core services. I also am asking them to develop solutions to address structural deficits in our budget. For decades, we have attempted to balance our budget for too long with the use of one-time resources. We must develop a budget based on stability, not volatility.”

The state’s 2018 fiscal year budget, which took effect July 1, has a shortfall of $215 million as a result of last month’s Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling, which struck down a proposed smoking cessation fee that was estimated to raise that amount. The $215 million represents just state funds. With the loss of matching federal funds, state agencies estimate the total is nearly $500 million.

“In the call, I have also given the Legislature the authority to address the need for more efficiencies in state government, which should provide long-term savings for the taxpayers,” the governor said. “In this regard, I have provided the budget committee chairpersons an extensive list of efficiencies I have proposed.

“I have been talking with legislative leaders from both parties and I will continue to work with them until an agreement is reached,” Fallin said. “I wish we had an easy button to push but that is not reality. Our challenges in front of us are difficult and it will take great resolve and statesmanship for us to be successful.”

Fallin said it is important for lawmakers to provide sufficient revenues to meet the basic responsibilities of state government, such as education, health and public safety.

“We must deliver services that work for the people, and put people over politics,” the governor said.

“I have also provided the legislative authority to clarify our intention that the new 1.25 percent sales tax on vehicles not extend to the trucking industry,” she said.

Fallin said it’s time a permanent pay raise is enacted for public school teachers. However, the governor said a pay raise alone will not improve student outcomes, urging lawmakers to ensure more existing dollars are reaching the classroom by eliminating administrative inefficiencies.

“I encourage lawmakers to see this special session as an opportunity to change the fiscal course we are headed,” said Fallin. “I hope they seize the moment to pass legislation that makes more recurring revenue available, reduces our reliance on one-time funds, and puts our state on the path to success.”