By Sen. JOSEPH SILK
We are entering into our last couple weeks of the 2016 session, and I am excited to return home to the district for the interim. Last year during the summer, I held multiple town hall meeting to discuss state issues with constituents, and those conversations and meetings went very well. I plan on getting those scheduled within the first few weeks after session! I would like share a few thoughts on the budget “fix” and the issue with healthcare.
The other day I heard someone say Oklahoma’s $1.3 billion deficit has nothing to do with the drop in the price of oil. That statement is shockingly false, and makes me seriously question if this person understands our state’s revenue stream. I am the first to acknowledge the fact the price of oil is not the sole cause of our budget issues, and I have dedicated many of my previous senate reviews to detailing some of the structural issues with Oklahoma’s budget and what we can do to actually make it more stable.
Fortunately, the Senate is doing what it should have done years ago and is finally passing measures that reduce the absurd and unchecked amount of tax credits that cause the state to lose hundreds of millions of dollars each year. In conjunction with growing our revenue stream by capping and eliminating many of these credits and rebates, we are also double checking our outflow to ensure tax payer dollars are actually going to core government service that benefit the people of Oklahoma.
One of the big budget fights is how much should the state bond. The Senate, House, and Governor all have differing ideas. Oklahoma just took a credit rating hit because we only pay cash for infrastructure and have a very low bond rating.
I am not opposed to bonding some major projects such as roads, in order to send revenue to other core functions. The issue is that we must be careful to not “borrow” our way out of this crisis, which would be very detrimental in the long run. There is responsible bonding that would benefit our state, but the question is what dollar amount is responsible.
I will attempt to go into this in more detail in weeks to come.
The last issue I want to discuss is the situation with our healthcare. Our rural hospitals and nursing homes will be in great danger if healthcare receives another cut. I am confident that we can find a budget agreement that will keep healthcare from receiving an additional cut.
I also believe that we can find some ways to increase provider rates and bring our health care industry into a more stable place. We can do this without buying into the proposed Medicaid Rebalancing Act of 2016, which essentially is Obama Care.
I have heard an overwhelming voice from my constituents in southeastern Oklahoma that we do not what to take part in this horrible government program. As we make further progress with this issue, I will continue to keep everyone informed and educated to best of my abilities.
As always, if there is ever anyway I can assist anyone or if there is anything you would like to discuss more in depth don’t hesitate to contact meat 405-521-5614 or by email at [email protected].
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