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Quotes of the Day

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March 2,

“A recent cut to the state’s personal income tax rate and tax breaks for the oil industry during periods of price declines have compounded the state’s revenue shortfall.”

– S&P Global Ratings, in a report lowering Oklahoma’s bond rating on Wednesday. The agency also lowered its rating Oklahoma’s appropriation debt (Source)

March 1,

“With revenue being difficult to raise, the Legislature often turns to cuts. Some lawmakers say that’s a good thing. Oklahoma families must control their spending; why shouldn’t the state? That’s a fair point, but here is the truth of the matter: our state government is not like a family that has bought a Ferrari and now must return it. We are like a family living in a house with a leaky roof and no heat, driving our kids around in a car that is about to break down. The solution to that problem is not less spending; it is investment with proper revenue.”

– Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy Executive Director Joe Dorman, calling on lawmakers to raise revenues (Source)

February 28,

“That threshold has put us in a position right now where we can’t do anything to raise revenue and fix the budget. Right now it’s so easy to cut taxes but so hard to raise revenue.”

-Rep. Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa), the author of House Joint Resolution 1003, which calls for a statewide vote on returning the threshold for tax increases to a simple majority, rather than the three quarters majority required under current law (Source)

February 27,

“I don’t know how much more I can emphasize that the time for action is now. It’s not a game. We need new revenue.”

-Oklahoma Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger, speaking about a state general revenue and 1017 fund shortfall that will mean about $50 million in mid-year budget cuts for schools (Source).

February 24,

“Voters in November loudly and clearly approved these significant reforms for our criminal justice system. The changes take effect in July but, unfortunately, this legislative session has already seen misguided efforts by legislators to gut the voter’s wishes before they even take effect. This is precisely the type of political dishonesty that has voters so upset with elected officials across the country.”

– Former House Speaker Kris Steele, on legislation (HB 1482) that would effectively undo criminal justice reforms included in a State Question approved by voters in November (Source)

February 23,

“If you turn off the existing system, we might leave as many as 32 million people without insurance. If we turn it off instantly, you don’t have a way to protect those people.”

– U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Cheyenne), speaking against repealing the Affordable Care Act without replacing it at a town hall meeting in Sapulpa on Wednesday (Source). Repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement in place would spell chaos for Oklahomans’ health care [OK Policy]

February 22,

“If our legislature isn’t willing to solve some of these problems and prioritize our service, invest in some of our services, there may just come a time at the end of session where I just veto the appropriations until we get a deal worked that works for the state of Oklahoma.”

-Governor Mary Fallin, threatening to veto a budget that doesn’t include sufficient new revenue to fund services (Source)

February 21,

“[Downing’s] bill is written in a way that causes a large geographic portion of the state to be a felony drug possession zone that turns addicts into felony prisoners instead of patients – exactly the opposite of what voters wanted.”

-Former House Speaker Kris Steele, criticizing a bill, HB 1482, which would make drug possession a felony if committed within 1,000 feet of a school, park, day care, or church, or in the presence of a child. This would make drug possession a felony over a large majority of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, as well as large portions of other Oklahoma cities and towns. Voters approved SQ 780 in 2016, making drug possession a misdemeanor rather than a felony when the law takes effect in July (Source)

February 20,

“What the Legislature has long needed is more men and women willing to entertain new ideas instead of simply shouting ‘No!’ and moving on. This is especially true when times are tough, as they have been in recent years.”

-The Oklahoman Editorial Board, writing that lawmakers need to come up with their own revenue ideas to close Oklahoma’s structural deficit if they reject Governor Fallin’s proposals (Source).

February 17,

“Usurious rates of lending in payday lending are not for the purpose of helping people lift themselves out of poverty. It perpetuates poverty.”

-Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-Edmond), who is sponsoring HB 1596 to improve monitoring and regulation of payday lenders (Source).