The Edmond Sun

Opinion

May 6, 2013

State budget proposal has much to applaud

GUTHRIE — On Thursday, the governor and legislative leaders announced an agreement for the composition of the state’s next budget. Capitol insiders are hard pressed to recall a time when these groups reached a budget agreement this early in the year.

In fact, this agreement brings to a close the last big decision of this legislative year and sets the stage for the Legislature to adjourn days ahead of schedule. All Oklahomans should know it is a good day when the Legislature goes home early.

Once a vote is taken on the proposed budget, the budget agreement will join tax reduction, transformational workers’ compensation reform and funding real property infrastructure needs without issuing debt as the last of the key votes that had to be held prior to the closure of this year’s session.

This presents a stark contrast to last year when many were disillusioned after very public disagreements between legislative chambers kept the Legislature from enacting tax reduction. Gone are the days when the House and the Senate would hold dueling press conferences where they blamed each other for the lack of progress.

It appears that this year will not end with a flurry of legislation coming out of conference committee with new last-minute proposals. Constituents may recall how just a few years ago legislators were forced to vote on huge bills with little prior notice. It does not appear as though this will be the case this time. I believe there will be less than 100 bills assigned to conference committee, meaning that the session could wind down without the all-night sessions that have marked the conclusion of past years.

This progress may be attributed to the composite of current legislative leadership. I have a tremendous appreciation for those who are representing the House of Representatives in key leadership positions. These legislators are responsible for negotiating with other state government policy officials. Our leadership teams contain individuals of sound judgment who are unlikely to have knee-jerk reactions based on small misunderstandings with those whom they negotiate. This prevents small issues and problems from growing into large ones. I was disappointed last year when leaders resorted to press conferences to cast blame, when common-sense problem solving could have avoided the entire disagreement.

I don’t think I am speaking too soon when I say this has by far been the best managed legislative session that I have witnessed since taking office in 2006.

Much has been written about the budget agreement during the past few days. It is always difficult on those of us who are small government fiscal conservatives to come to grips with the new and additional government spending that takes place in years like this one when state government has a lot of new revenue to spend. When combined with supplemental funding the new spending will be in the area of $300 million . It is hard for me to vote for these increases when the foremost focus of my work in the Legislature has been to reduce spending. Time and time again I have witnessed the absurd inefficiencies and wasteful spending practices within state government and I know this new injection of money will enable some of these to continue.

The budget’s saving grace is the fact that it meets deferred real property infrastructure needs without issuing debt. About a third of the new spending has been allocated for this purpose.

Out-of-power politicians are emphasizing the fact that the budget does not contain across-the-board pay raises for certain state employees. This should be seen for what it is, pure hyperbole. Over the past years not only have many employees received pay raises but also tax-free health insurance benefits have become so rich that many employees are receiving significant cash in excess of the benefit. Even though it isn’t in the budget, the Legislature is in negotiating with state employees to potentially approve an omnibus compensation package that will account for all state employees’ compensation and award raises to those who perform well while also potentially adjusting benefits to reflect reality. I expect we will vote on this proposal within just days.

Please don’t hesitate to send my your views on the proposed new budget.

REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via email at jason.murphey@okhouse.gov, on Facebook at facebook.com/JasonMurphey and Twitter.com/JWMurphey.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Welfare state grows as self-sufficiency declines

    For the past 50 years, the government’s annual poverty rate has hardly changed at all. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of Americans still live in poverty, roughly the same rate as the mid-1960s when the War on Poverty was just starting.
    After adjusting for inflation, federal and state welfare spending today is 16 times greater than it was when President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty. If converted into cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all official poverty in the U.S.
    How can the government spend so much while poverty remains unchanged? The answer is simple: The Census Bureau’s “poverty” figures are woefully incomplete.

    August 1, 2014

  • Let laughter reign in Turkey

    This week, Bulent Arinc, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, verbally chastised Turkish women for laughing in public. Before we take a closer look at these remarks — in the interest of full disclosure — I need to confess a personal bias. I love to hear my wife’s laughter. Sometimes, when I review the day’s highlights, the most pleasant thing that comes to mind is her laugh — it’s frequent, genuine, pleasantly-pitched, melodious, appropriately timed, infectious and charming.

    August 1, 2014

  • Is English getting dissed?

    Is the English language being massacred by the young, the linguistically untidy and anyone who uses the Internet? Absolutely.
    Is that anything new? Hardly.
    Many words and expressions in common parlance today would have raised the hackles of language scolds in the not-so-distant past. For evidence, let’s look at some examples from recent newspaper articles.

    July 31, 2014

  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at www.edmondsun.com show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results