BY DAVID PERRYMAN
Today, my optometrist would probably call it Macular Degeneration. In the 1940’s my family just knew that my grandfather’s cousin should not have been driving a car. There are a number of stories to underscore this fact, but none so vivid as the day that Cousin Weak Eyes crashed his new Oldsmobile.
Visual perfection does not come naturally to my family. We have always been thankful for Ben Franklin’s invention of bifocals. In fact, many relatives – me included – wear spectacles to prevent making one of ourselves, which brings me back to Cousin Weak Eyes.
According to legend, Cousin Weak Eyes was tooling to town, Mr. Magoo-style, and proceeded in broad daylight to bury the front of his car directly into the rear end of a street sweeper that was making its rounds.
Indignantly, my visually impaired relative jumped out of his car and proceeded to inform the operator of the street cleaning equipment of the dangers of having the machine on the roadway without red flags in the back.
Slowly, deliberately and correctly, the driver of the street sweeper informed Cousin Weak Eyes that his inability to see a machine as large as a street sweeper was a pretty good indication that he would not see red flags.
Fortunately, neither driver was injured and the street sweeper was not damaged, only the front of the Oldsmobile.
While it has little to do with a physiological problem, we often encounter people who have trouble seeing the forest for the trees. This adage is particularly relevant to the current discussion regarding the Oklahoma income tax.
We all agree that the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate and President Obama need to work together to curb deficit spending and eliminate the stifling federal debt.
However, Oklahoma, with its constitutional requirement to maintain a balanced budget has a much different problem. The state of Oklahoma does not print money and must fund its core services purely through available tax revenue. Unfortunately, the state of Oklahoma is neglecting the needs of its infrastructure, its children and its elderly citizens.
The governor is poised to sign SB 1062 to enact the most sweeping changes in the workers compensation law in 50 years. It is now time that our state gets serious about the fact that we are 49th in education funding. Our state’s greatest resource is its people and employers’ No. 1 concern is an educated work force.
It is time to challenge every business and community leader and every chamber member to attack the problematic underfunding of education in Oklahoma with the same passion and zeal that they used to promote workers compensation reform.
Oklahoma citizens overwhelmingly support Second Amendment rights and point to the mental health of citizens as the basis of gun violence, yet our Legislature refuses to fund mental health programs and treatment facilities.
Our Legislature closes facilities for the disabled and leaves them and their families with no alternatives. In many cases, the facilities provide the only treatment and home that they have had for decades.
Law enforcement and other public sector and emergency personnel, including firefighters have not have had their compensation increased in nearly a decade and the retirement systems of underpaid public employees is being threatened by the governor, the treasurer and leaders in the state House and Senate.
Our state Capitol building is literally falling down and backroom political deals are being cut to further cripple the state’s budget by decreasing the state’s income tax. The pat answer is that we do not have enough money to fix roads and bridges or to help veterans and the disabled or children or senior citizens.
The proposed state income tax cut would provide the average Oklahoma taxpayer less than $7 per month. Most households earning less than $75,000 per year would see a smaller decrease.
Unfortunately, cutting state income taxes will take about $130 million out of the state budget thus further devastating basic core services.
It will also leave the state in a serious financial condition since Oklahoma will owe the oil and gas industry approximately $90 million in unfunded tax credits in 2014.
See the forest and the trees. Cutting the state’s income tax is irresponsible and, unless you speak up now, you will allow it to happen.
Finally, your donation to the BrightFocus Foundation supports research for Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma and Alzheimer ’s disease. The eyesight you save may be your own.
– The author, a Chickasha Democrat, represents District 56 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives