PRYOR, OK — “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” ~Vince Lombardi
The second regular session of the 54th Legislature began last week. A total of 1,465 bills were filed and are available for consideration this session beginning with hearings in committees which will begin in earnest this week.
Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin delivered the State of the State address on the opening day of session. In the speech, the governor released her FY2015 Executive Budget. The budget proposed a $50 million increase to education, other targeted increases, and 5 percent budget cuts for most agencies.
The governor also asked legislators to support a bond issue to fix the crumbling State Capitol building and called for a .25 percent reduction in the state income tax.
I have expressed my concerns for further income tax reductions in this column over the years as our state continues to have many urgent needs that need to be addressed financially.
Our schools are operating with nearly $300 million less than they were in 2008. Oklahoma has cut per pupil expenditures more than any other state in the nation at 22.8 percent. And our teachers are not only one of the most underpaid in the nation but the most underpaid in the region.
Oklahoma has the highest guard-to-inmate ratio in the nation, a backlog of deficient roads and bridges, and a health care system that is unsustainable at the current rate of funding.
Asking for an additional .25 percent income tax reduction which removes $125 million from the state budget at time when our state is already facing a $170 million revenue shortfall is fiscally irresponsible.
I will continue to advocate and work toward a budget that measures Oklahoma as a state that values its children by fully funding their education, addresses their health and public safety needs, and puts people first.
I appreciate the newspapers who offer this space during session for me to communicate directly with you. Please feel free to contact me any time with your questions and concerns.
You may reach me by calling 1-800-522-8502, emailing to email@example.com; or writing to me at Representative Chuck Hoskin, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105.
It is my pleasure to represent you in Oklahoma’s House.