State Senators John Ford (R-Bartlesville), Jim Halligan (R-Stillwater), and Mike Mazzei (R-Tulsa) are starting a new think tank to focus on state issues. Ford and Mazzei are both leaving the Senate due to term limits, while Halligan opted to not run for a third and final four-year term.
Mazzei, a certified financial planner, told Oklahoma Watch that the Opportunity Project will reflect the views of fiscal conservatives like himself on issues of state finance, education and health policy.Ford leaves office with a lifetime Conservative Index score of 63, Halligan with a score of 45, and Mazzei with a score of 64. Comparing those scores to the rest of the Senate, Mazzei is tied for 13th most conservative/19th most liberal, Ford is tied for 14th most conservative/18th most liberal, and Halligan for 22nd most conservative/9th most liberal (2nd most liberal Republican).
“Our goal, in the era of term limits, is to offer policy ideas and institutional knowledge to members of the Legislature who would like to have some expertise that doesn’t come from lobbyists and agency employees,” Mazzei said.
Mazzei said organizations such as OK Policy and OCPA play an important role in the legislative process, but generally lack the insider perspective gained from years of service in the House or Senate.
“Our ideological friends out there sometimes make proposals that sound good on paper, but they don’t work in the real world,” Mazzei said. “And neither do they understand the political realities of how to get stuff done at the Capitol.
“That level of detail and expertise frankly just doesn’t exist at the think tanks,“ he said.
Read the full story at Oklahoma Watch here.