By Sen. JOSEPH SILK
The 2017 Special Session that was called in order to address the budget hole is continuing much longer than I or anyone else anticipated. So far, the focus of the session has been on trying to raise revenue in order to offset the budget shortfall created by the Supreme Court’s opinion a few months back.
According the Oklahoma Constitution, revenue raising measures must originate and be passed in the House of Representatives before moving to the Senate. That being said, this special session has been much slower in the Senate than it has been in the House, since we are essentially waiting to see what they will pass. The reason the House has been unable to pass any significant measure is because there are basically three groups of legislators who all have enough numbers to cause disruption.
The first are the typical establishment type republicans who are willing to raise taxes, etc. in order to keep government agencies fully funded without looking at any of the waste.
The second are the actual conservative republicans who will not raise additional taxes onthe people of Oklahoma without first addressing the wasteful spending in bureaucracies.
Lastly, are the democrats, who don’t seem to cooperate with anything; some of their reasons I agree with, some I find very trivial. The Senate has passed some one time funds, from the “rainy day fund” to help the three health agencies that are being impacted by this issue. If we are able to pass some other one-time funds along with strategic cuts, that will have a minimal effect on the people of Oklahoma, that should be able to sustain everything until next year. I wrote an article a couple months ago about how there are several different groups of legislators, those groups digging in along with the Constitutional requirement to have a 75 percent vote, in addition to new House and Senate Leadership and a Governor in her final year.
All this has created the perfect storm to address a very complex issue. As always, if anyone would ever like to discuss issues in detail feel free to contact me.
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