Monday, January 25, 2021

OCPA column: Joe Biden no excuse for inaction in OK


Joe Biden no excuse for inaction in OK
By Jonathan Small

Joe Biden’s inauguration means Democrats now hold narrow control of Congress and the presidency. But it does not mean advocates for freedom have no way to impact policy.

Even when the far-left holds power in Washington, the states remain the place where innovative policy advances are most likely to occur. That should prompt advocates for freedom to redouble their efforts here in Oklahoma.

This would be true at the start of any presidential term, but it’s especially important this year as the disruption created by COVID-19 and the gaping flaws it exposed in our state systems has created public demand for change.

For example, the lack of consistent, quality, in-person instruction in public schools has fueled strong demand for parent choice in education. That will bolster Oklahomans’ influence in urging lawmakers to offer all parents a “ticket out.” Whether a parent wants a new option because their child’s geographically assigned school is little more than a supplier of ultra-“woke” indoctrination, isn’t sufficiently academically preparing kids, or because it will not reopen due to teacher union opposition, all parents deserve options.

At the same time families are struggling to properly educate their children, the ongoing economic struggles of families and businesses highlight the need to end the immoral penalty on work—the state income tax—and shift to a consumption tax. We can eliminate the state income tax, exempt groceries from the sales tax, provide a major tax credit that ensures low-income families are not overly penalized by sales taxes, and make Oklahoma more economically robust at the same time. If we want Oklahoma to be a place where home-grown businesses thrive and other companies choose to relocate, we must eliminate the income tax.

We also need to take Oklahoma’s judicial-appointment process out of the hands of liberal special interests and instead place that power in the hands of the governor elected by state citizens by giving him appointment authority with confirmation required from the state senators elected by state citizens.

Liberal trial lawyers consistently support far-left candidates for office at all levels of government, so why should we give them authority to pick the judges who interpret our state laws and state constitution?

Lawmakers must also prevent Oklahoma’s newly approved Medicaid expansion from bankrupting state government and fueling tax increases. Use of managed care is the most obvious option.

Those are just a few ideas. There are many other areas where policies that promote thriving for all should be advanced in Oklahoma, and there’s no excuse for failure to achieve those goals when the GOP holds supermajorities and the governorship.

The path to reclaiming power at the federal government lies in proving the superiority of your ideas at the levels of government you do control. That means advocates for freedom who are worried about what happens in Washington, D.C., need to be just as concerned about what’s happening “under the dome” in Oklahoma City.

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

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