Monday, July 25, 2022

CD2 runoff: Frix's horrible fiscal record examined

The 14-member 2nd Congressional District GOP primary has been whittled down to State Rep. Avery Frix (R-Muskogee) and former State Senator and Coburn staffer Josh Brecheen. Frix is posturing himself as a "next-gen MAGA warrior" who named a highway after Donald Trump, while Brecheen is campaigning as a proven conservative reformer. Frix received 14.74% of the primary vote, while Brecheen took 13.75%.

Brecheen's record demonstrates deeply-held conservative principles. Frix, on the other hand, may be a registered Republican (now), but he's by no means the super-conservative fighter his campaign is depicting him as. In fact, on many issues, he's simply not conservative. At all

A little context, first. Starting around 2016, the Oklahoma legislature was faced with significant budget shortfalls due to economic conditions and continued spending at high levels from previous "good" years. Conservatives advocated for digging into the budget and rooting out waste, duplication, and reforming tax credits. You know, championing limited government. The more moderate Republican legislative leadership and rank-and-file members, along with Democrats, opted instead for the "easier" route of tax increases.

As a result, the Legislature voted on a veritable avalanche of tax hike proposals. Avery Frix supported almost every single one. Josh Brecheen opposed almost every single one.

Let me give you almost seven billion reasons why Avery Frix is no fiscal conservative:

  • In 2017, Frix voted to decouple the Oklahoma standard deduction from federal amounts, increasing Oklahomans' taxes by $4.4M.
  • In 2017, Frix voted for a brand new government fee on sports tickets, increasing government fee collections by what was estimated at $2.9M annually.
  • In 2017, Frix voted for a de-facto tax hike on small business owners of an estimated $14M annually.
  • In 2017, Frix voted for a $95M tax hike on energy production.
  • In 2017, Frix voted for a $123M vehicle sales tax hike.
  • In 2017, Frix voted for a $258M cigarette tax hike that was unanimously ruled to be unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
  • In 2017, Frix voted for a $102M tax hike that would have limited itemized income tax deductions. It failed to receive a Senate hearing.
  • In 2017, Frix voted for a $455M tax hike package on motor fuels, cigarettes, other tobacco products, beer, and some energy production (did not reach final passage).
  • In 2017, Frix voted for an identical $455M tax hike passage to the previous one that did not reach a Senate vote.
  • In 2017, Frix voted for a $151M tax hike on some oil and gas wells.
  • In 2018, Frix took a $2,000 out-of-state legislative junket to New York City for a National Popular Vote conference sponsored by the Institute for Research on Presidential Elections.
  • In 2018, Frix voted for a $581M mega-tax hike that failed to reach the 3/4ths vote required by the state constitution. This would have been the largest tax hike in decades, if not state history.
  • In 2018, Frix voted for a $534M mega-tax hikethe largest tax hike to pass in Oklahoma since at least 1990. Raised taxes on energy production, tobacco products, cigarettes, gasoline and diesel fuels, and hotel/motel stays.
  • In 2018, Frix voted for a bill to make it easier for the Legislature to raise taxes on Oklahomans.
  • In 2020, Frix authored and passed an unfunded cost-of-living-adjustment, which would have increased Oklahoma pension system liability by $800M-$900M. Oklahoma government pension systems were in shockingly bad shape after Democratic control, with the teacher retirement system barely half-funded. Republicans spent several years in the early 2010s working to fix those sinking boats, and required any future COLAs to be fully-funded. Frix led a return to the old Democratic way of passing unfunded increases (an long-used vote buying pander scheme).
  • In March of this year, Frix authored and passed an historically bad bill through the House which would have undone all the work Republicans did to fix the state retirement systems, wiping away an estimated $3.8 billion in projected taxpayer savings, and which would have boosted state legislators' own retirement significantly. State Sen. Marty Quinn, who placed sixth in the CD2 primary and has endorsed Josh Brecheen, helped kill this disastrous union-happy measure in the State Senate.

All told, between 2017 and 2018 alone (and I might have missed a few votes), Avery Frix voted for no less than $2.775B in tax hikes on Oklahomans. 

That's $2,775,000,000.00 with a billion B. 

Add to that his unfunded liablity bill of $800-$900M, plus his let's-gut-successful-conservative-pension-reforms-and-bring-back-the-failed-Democratic-plan bill, we're talking a fiscal record for Avery Frix of potentially near $7B ($7,000,000,000.00) worth of harm to the Oklahoma taxpayer.

Frix and his dark money boosters are projecting an image of conservatism that does not match his real voting record.

Again, let me reiterate: in addition to voting for $2.775B in tax hikes, and $4.6B in reviving the Democratic retirement plan, Avery Frix fought to make it easier to raise taxes on Oklahomans

After the Oklahoma legislature raised taxes in 1990, Oklahoma voters responded by passing State Question 640, which put a 3/4ths (75%) threshold for legislative approval of tax hikes. Frix and his liberal buddies in the Legislature chafed against this voter-initiated restriction on their big government tendencies, and voted for a bill to lower that threshhold down to 2/3rds (66.7%). Astoundingly, he also supported an amendment which would have lowered the threshold even further down to 3/5ths (60%). Fortunately, his efforts to gut taxpayer protections failed.

I reached out to the folks at OCPA, who have watched fiscal policy at the Oklahoma State Capitol for years, asking them what they considered to be the worst fiscal bill they'd ever seen pass a state house or senate chamber. Frix's disastrous pension bill was the unanimous pick:

“Pension reform was a major conservative objective when Republicans finally took majorities in the legislature. Delivering on pension reform was a promise kept by conservative legislators, that reform eliminated billions in debt and was projected at the time to save taxpayers more than $300 million per year, or $3.4 billion over 30 years. It’s also been proven by legislative, legal and fiscal staff in both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate that, contrary to some legislators’ claims, the bill that passed the House to gut these reforms would have also provided a financial benefit to many of those same legislators.”

When real conservatives stood up to protect the Oklahoma taxpayer, Avery Frix opposed them.

When real conservatives opposed tax hikes, Avery Frix supported almost every single tax hike vote.

When conservatives tried to kill tax hikes, Avery Frix tried to make it much easier to pass tax hikes.

While real conservatives fixed failed retirement systems, Avery Frix wrote the bill to return to the old broken system, a big plus for his government union fans.

Avery Frix is the worst choice for real conservative voters. Oklahoma and America needs Josh Brecheen to win the 2nd Congressional District GOP runoff.

Avery Frix is no fiscal conservative. He's a fiscal conservative fraud.

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