Tuesday, September 26, 2017

UPDATE: GOP Gubernatorial Candidates on the Special Session


I reached out to the GOP gubernatorial candidates for their take on the special session (which began yesterday). Here are the answers of the candidates who replied to my inquiry, listed in order of response - Gary Jones, Todd Lamb, and Gary Richardson (UPDATE: Dan Fisher has now responded):

1. What do you hope to see legislators do during the special session? 

Gary Jones: I believe the legislature should address the issue of declining general revenues. Do a reset on the gross production tax and set the rate at 5% for the first three years. Pass the tobacco tax and dedicate the funding to health-related issues. Consider raising the gasoline tax by 3 cents to 20 cents and diesel by 6 cents to 20 cents. This will generate around $500 million annually. Keep in mind the budget hole is $900 million annually.

Todd Lamb: Act swiftly to address the FY18 budget issue while exploring ways to decrease government inefficiencies and wasteful spending of tax dollars.

Gary Richardson: The legislators need to do what every Oklahoma family does when times are tough at home. They need to go over what they spend and find out what we can cut back on. I am confident that we have enough money in wasteful spending to fill the budget gap without raising taxes. We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

Dan Fisher: Adjourn before they can tax again.

Mick Cornett: NO RESPONSE

Kevin Stitt: NO RESPONSE

2. Gov. Fallin now says she will veto any measure that contains cuts to state agencies, instead focusing solely on "revenue raising". Do you agree or disagree with her stance? 

Gary Jones: I don’t believe we should do across the board cuts, but can do targeted cuts once an audit has been performed on those agencies. We do not need to do forensic audits or all agencies. but need to do performance audits based on an overall risk assessment being done of the state as a whole to determine what areas offer the greatest opportunities for the elimination of waste and savings based on greater efficiency.

Todd Lamb: I do not support the governor’s stance and feel strongly the legislature should always seek opportunities to prioritize the spending of tax dollars on core services while examining avenues to cut waste and downsize state government.

Gary Richardson: I think our governor needs to remind herself what it means to follow Republican values. She campaigned on lower taxes and less spending, it’s time we legislate that way.

Dan Fisher: Disagree, to drain more money from an already overtaxed population is unconscionable. To do so with no effort to reduce spending is incompetent bordering on criminal.

Mick Cornett: NO RESPONSE

Kevin Stitt: NO RESPONSE

3. Do you have any suggestions or solutions you'd like to see the legislature consider during the special session?

Gary Jones: The revenue measures can be done this year. I also think they should consider a targeted teacher’s pay increase this special session as well.

Todd Lamb: Commit to truly address Oklahoma’s numerous tax exemptions, as I have continually advocated.

Gary Richardson: I put forth a plan back in April that shows how we could fund the $878 million budget hole without raising taxes while giving teachers a $3,000 a year raise. We do it by getting rid of services we don’t need (state agency swag is a perfect example) and deferring a portion of the $500 million to $2 billion of corporate tax credits for 2 years while we audit every state agency, trust, and authority and sell off state assets that we don’t need like the GRDA, which alone could net the state upwards of $1 billion.

Dan Fisher: I would like to see the legislature reduce spending by $200 million then muster the fortitude within their leadership to override the threatened veto from this lame duck governor.

Mick Cornett: NO RESPONSE

Kevin Stitt: NO RESPONSE

1 comments:

Chris Powell said...

You only asked GOP candidates, but had you asked others...

Question 1. The Legislature should prioritize spending by eliminating subsidies, tax incentives, and less essential expenditures in order to shore up funding for core services. If some tax increases were implemented that would eliminate structural favoritism, such as raising the tax on diesel by three cents so that it is the same as that on gasoline, that could be an acceptable compromise position but only if accompanied by meaningful cuts of waste and crony capitalism. Simply raising taxes without addressing spending is unacceptable.

2. Gov. Fallin claimed both in the initial call for a special session and after her threat to veto any cuts that she had a 'list of efficiencies' that she provided to budget committee chairs. This is an example of the governor speaking out of both sides of her mouth. I don't believe there is a list but the governor can prove me wrong by producing so we can all support these cuts instead of just trying to raise revenue.

3. I would like to see the Legislature take the principle of equality before the law to heart and address the fact that crony capitalism and favoritism for special interests and pet projects are not only examples of wasteful spending but that such preferential treatment undermines the very concept of rule of law. There's a plethora of unequal treatment that was purposely implemented, but there's plenty of instances where this is an unintended consequence as well. The Legislature and the next governor should be committed to acting without fear or favor.