To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Monday, October 19, 2020

New Observercast

Rolling Up Sleeves

on

BY ARNOLD HAMILTON

Now the work begins.

The pomp and pageantry of the Legislature’s opening day – including the governor’s annual State of the State message – are over, and giddy lawmakers face an imposing figure.

$600 million.

That’s how much less they’ll have to spend this year than last.

As state revenues slow, the needs accelerate. And Republicans, now firmly in control of both houses, get to steer the ship of state.

How will they do? It won’t take long for them to figure out it’s much easier to be a Molotov-cocktail-throwing member of the loyal minority than it is to make tough decisions about allocating ever-more-precious financial resources.

Oklahomans are renowned for complaining bitterly about taxes – even though the state’s overall tax burden ranks between 47th and 50th depending on the survey.

What Oklahomans like even less is when their government isn’t providing basic services [yes, I know: there’s a direct, unmistakable correlation between taxes and services, but far too many folks still haven’t come to grips with this simple concept].

It’ll be interesting to see how the anti-tax, small-government crowd now controlling the Legislature deals with constituents fuming, for example, that the high school football team can’t afford to go to the next county for a game or the band can’t afford the next competition or the pot-hole-ravaged state highway can’t be fixed or …

Not many will be honest enough to admit it publicly, but I’ll bet more than a few lawmakers – after enduring a few butt-chewings at the local coffee shop – will wish they had back some of that $720 million in tax cuts.

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.