OKLAHOMA CITY – Almost immediately after Gov. Fallin finished her ‘State of the State’ address, lawmakers from across the state began commenting on her solution to Oklahoma’s budget crisis.
On the first day of the legislative session, Oklahoma lawmakers are already facing a nearly $900 million budget shortfall.
“Oklahoma will continue to struggle if we don’t fix our structural deficits in our budget,” Fallin said.
Fallin said that Oklahoma has spent too long trying to balance the budget on one-time revenue sources.
She proposed eliminating the sales tax on groceries and eliminating the corporate income tax.
Fallin also proposed raising diesel and gasoline taxes, and using those fuel taxes for roads and bridges.
She also called for teacher pay raises and changes to the criminal justice system.
“Governor Fallin put forth some good ideas today, and on those issues House Republicans are certainly ready to engage in discussion. We support a responsible teacher pay raise without raising taxes, enactment of much needed education reforms, a quick resolution that puts Oklahoma in compliance with the Real ID Act while protecting citizens’ privacy and funding that puts more state troopers on our highways.
“Like any legislative session, there are going to be areas of disagreement on details between the Legislature and the Governor’s Office. House Republicans are focused on implementing ideas that correlate with the conservative values of Oklahomans – ideas that make citizens safer, increase personal and economic freedom, encourage competition and grow our economy. Those are all areas where our Republican caucus, our colleagues in the Senate and Governor Fallin have agreed that we can work together to move our state forward and make Oklahomans more prosperous,” a statement from House Speaker Charles McCall said.
However, not everyone supported her proposals.
“Today’s executive budget pushes new tax increases on working families and entrepreneurs, which is the wrong path for our state. It’s a false choice to suggest the only way to balance the budget is to raise the cost of living and doing business in Oklahoma. There are still numerous spending reforms available to right-size government and fund core state services. The state could save hundreds of millions of dollars and prevent damaging tax increases on Oklahoma families if it was to end unnecessary wind subsidies, implement Medicaid reforms, cut administrative waste in higher education, and fully implement state and education employee health insurance reform. OCPA will work to pursue and accelerate those reforms and to stop attempts to raise taxes on Oklahomans,” OCPA President Jonathan Small said in a statement.
Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Calvey released the following statement:
There are millions of dollars in waste, unnecessary expense, and fat in state government. It is wrong to take more money away from taxpayers so politicians can avoid making government work more efficiently,” Calvey said.
“The government should operate the same as Oklahoma families are forced to in lean economic times,” Calvey said. “Families don’t have the luxury of wasting money instead of streamlining their spending habits. Government should have to tighten its belt without squeezing more money from already overburdened taxpayers. I call upon Governor Fallin to return to her roots and choose a conservative solution to budget problems instead of liberal tax increases.”