The second deadline week of the session ended last Thursday and by the end of the week, 41 Senate measures remained on general order, essentially making them dormant until the next year.
At this point, bills that have passed both chambers with changes must be accepted by their original authors or be placed in conference committee. Those schedules are being worked out as authors decide to accept or reject changes to their bills. To date, only a handful of bill authors have requested conferences, however.
Overall, last week pivoted around Tuesday’s announcement by the governor and some legislative leadership that they had come to an agreement on cutting state revenues through an income tax cut, worker’s compensation, and infrastructure repairs.
There had been disagreement between the Senate proposal to wait until 2015, after the next elections, to cut income taxes and the other two issues were the bargaining chips used to get all three parties on the same page.
At the joint press conference last Tuesday, the governor, the Senate president, and the Speaker of the House, announced their agreement on three proposals: income taxes would not be cut until 2015 with additional cuts in 2016 if revenue triggers were met; the opt-out provision remained in the worker’s compensation bill; and a pay-as-you-go infrastructure bill with $120 million in repairs to the state capitol.
It is difficult to see how it is prudent to cut income taxes at this point. While our state fared better than many during the Great Recession, we are still recovering and funding to core state services has not been restored after draconian cuts 5 years ago.
Eliminating up to $250 million from state revenues now or in three years is unconscionable and fiscally irresponsible, especially when the revenue triggers are so meager, the tax cuts would wipe out any new revenue growth in our state.
The formulation of a pay-as-you-go infrastructure plan that benefits the state capitol before all else seems tone deaf as our schools have yet to see a supplementary budget as they are about to finish out the rest of the school year.
Perhaps we should work on funding our school budget before fixing crumbling gargoyles at the state capitol.
Undoubtedly, the state budget appropriation measures will consume our work the remainder of this session. I will continue to work for increased school funding, road and bridge repair and other pressing needs that have been pushed aside in recent years.It is my pleasure to serve you in the legislature.
Please contact me any time with your questions and concerns. You may reach me by calling 1-800-522-8502, emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org; or writing to me at Representative Chuck Hoskin, P.O. Box 941, Vinita, OK 74301.
Chuck Hoskin is state representative for District 6.