Closing weeks of session may bring the greatest test for this generation of Oklahoma legislators (Capitol Updates)

Photo by Shannan Muskopf / CC BY-NC 2.0
Photo by Shannan Muskopf / CC BY-NC 2.0

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol. You can sign up on his website to receive the Capitol Updates newsletter by email.

The filing period for legislative offices kept many members on edge last week. Filing, together with the leadership’s beginning to reveal to the general membership the budget discussions they’ve been having now for several months, made for an interesting start to the six-week dash to the finish. Also, Governor Fallin offered up a “revised budget” with various elements for legislators to consider. And as if that weren’t enough on the plate, the plan by the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority to expand Medicaid through Insure Oklahoma came into sharper focus. The $1.50 per pack cigarette tax increase has been suggested to pay the state’s match for the “Medicaid Rebalancing Act” as well as to hold provider cuts down.

It looks like the next few months are going to be a rough ride. To actually make a budget, members are going to have to do things some thought they would never do. They are going to have to find a way to raise some revenue. In addition, the governor has proposed borrowing through bonding for completion of the state Capitol repairs and to free up operational money from roads and highways to fund other areas of state services. And even after all that, there might be cuts to areas like education, human services and higher education that will be unpalatable.

The governor has proposed ways to get to the promised land of a balanced budget. Legislators, including some in leadership, have reasonable doubts about whether they will all work or whether they can pass. But legislators also have some ideas that could get a decent budget put together. There really is no lack of rational alternatives to avoid dismantling valuable and needed state services and to running the state like an underfunded third-world government. The question will be whether they can get it done. To their credit there is a lot of hard work going on among legislators, the agencies and the governor. But they’ll be judged by their results, not by their hard work.

And then there is the election. This generation of legislators has seldom if ever been tested like it will be now. Few of the options will be popular, and decisions are being made and voted on, if you have a primary, only weeks before the election. Or, if you have a general, a few months from the election when people will have had a chance to get mad and get organized. You have to assume legislators run for these offices at least in part because they want to make a positive impact on the world in which they are living. The next six weeks will give them that chance.

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Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1990. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

2 thoughts on “Closing weeks of session may bring the greatest test for this generation of Oklahoma legislators (Capitol Updates)

  1. Seriously does oklahoma have a group of monkeys controlling the money and it’s budget. Out of the millions oklahoma gets in they are saying oklahoma is having a crises OF course it is ,Let’s look at the big picture Oklahoma is loosing schools ,teachers,jobs but what the hell Right oklahoma can’t keep those very important things growing for a bigger better tomorrow But they sure in the heck can build more casinos that’s just bull crapp the casinos promised money for the schools So where the heck is it, Funny how oklahoma has to shut down schools because they don’t have the money to keep it going and while a school is being closed Down because of No funds Another new Casino is being built Heck the one on the river looks like a Vegas Strip now and what the heck is up with these so called gangs around tulsa dealing drugs breaking into homes selling illegal fire arms and painting gang symbols all over our neighborhoods and getting our children on drugs ,Then I have to ask about all the muti millions oklahoma residents has to pay for these So called new roads and streets in taxes, Seriously unless ur blind as a bat anyone can see the roads aren’t getting fixed right they are half ass built because someone is pocketing most of the tax payers money and then using the cheapest materials to build the roads that keep falling apart seriously pea gravel and black tar doesn’t cost that much and it’s worthless it doesn’t hold together, Here’s an idea FIRE The Company that’s been doing our roads and actually hire one that uses a thread material in their mixture for streets and highways that holds everything together longer and save millions every year and put that money back into our schools And Start making the Casinos Pay up and actually do right by oklahoma schools and Stop SCAMMING oklahoma residents with there Fixed slot Machines The casinos are making enough off oklahoma residents to build more casinos, SO I just have to ask Am I the only one seeing this, Multi Million dollar casinos that make millions are building more casinos while our oklahoma schools are being shut down, Here’s an idea How about finding out the REAL AMOUNT OF MONEY the casinos are making Not just the amount they report to oklahoma state but the rest they are not reporting,A person has to be a real idiot not to know that things just aren’t adding up thousands of people go into those casinos day and night spending un Godley amounts of money 24/7 but apparently and pretty OBVIOUS the money going into those casinos sure in the Hell isn’t going to oklahoma schools As the Casinos promised instead oklahoma schools are falling apart and being shut down because they don’t have the Funds While in the meantime casinos in Oklahoma are being built bigger with multi million dollar interiors and designs with million dollar parking garages muti million dollar Luxury Hotels for the casinos guest to stay in and muti million dollar restaurants for casinos guest to eat in , I find that very interesting since it seems to me that there isn’t enough money going into oklahoma schools to keep them open but Apparently The Casinos are keeping enough money to build their lavishing Billion dollar casinos that keep going up all over oklahoma, It’s past time for the oklahoma government to step in and do a full investigation inside those casinos They are ripping oklahoma residents and oklahoma schools off ,The casinos are using fixed slot machines to fraudulently trick and steal off oklahoma residents, The Casinos sure don’t want media, news crews inside them nor do they want any oklahoma residents to use anything that may interfere with the settings on thier slot machines because the casinos doesn’t want oklahoma residents CHEATING THEM, however the Casinos sure in the hell don’t mind using fixed slots to fraud and Cheat oklahoma residents out of millions of dollars, Oklahoma government in my opinion SHOULD Do a surprise Raid on all of oklahoma Casinos Especially The river spirt Casino in tulsa and the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa / Catoosa and not allow anyone to touch the slot machines and have a professional government official right then and there to check the slots to see if they where tampered with and if the oklahoma government finds that the slots has been Tampered with then the state of Oklahoma should Take OVER the Casinos Right then and there and Charge the Casinos for committing fraud by Knowingly cheating and Scamming oklahoma residents out of millions of dollars that the Casinos knowingly Tricked oklahoma residents in to thinking they was playing a fair game of slots on a slot machine that was not Tampered with,If the oklahoma government finds the Casinos did Tamper with the slots causing them not to function right knowingly scamming oklahoma residents out of money by miss leading oklahoma residents into thinking they was playing on a slot machine that wasn’t tampered with or fixed by the casino to not function properly that the Casino knowingly Caused the slot Machine to cheat, skip reels and miss lead unknowingly Casino guest (oklahoma residents into thinking they was playing a fair game of slots,If the oklahoma government finds the casinos have mislead ,cheated, scammed innocent oklahoma residents out of there money by using fraudulent slots (tampered with ) then the oklahoma government and city government where the Casino is Built Gaines full Ownership and Control of That Casino in Which all the Casino Earnings from That day On will be given accordingly to all city and state owned Properties where 50% of the Casino earnings will from that day forward go to Oklahoma public Schools for operating the schools including paying for oklahoma teachers,school supplies, school sports ,school buses, and to build new oklahoma schools then the other 50 %the casinos earnings will be equally divided through out the city on city owned properties and city operating business to help maintain and grow a bigger better city, Oklahoma government taking control of the Casinos Would diffently take care of the school budget crisis and a whole lot more,

  2. Kimberly,
    It is my understanding that casinos are paid for and built by various Native American tribes on tribal land. The state of Oklahoma doesn’t not pay anything for them nor does the state have jurisdiction on tribal lands under most circumstances. Most tribal land is governed by the tribes themselves and is considered the territory of a sovereign nation.

    When you ask where the money is that was supposed to go to education, I believe you might be thinking of lottery revenue. That’s a very valid question and a completely different story altogether.

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