Muskogee Politico

Bridenstine to NASA? Rumors heat up

NASA Watch, a news site focused on the space agency, and Arstechnica, a tech/science news site, are both reporting that Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine will likely be announced in the coming weeks as the Trump administration’s pick for NASA Administrator.

The Deputy #NASA Admin position was decided a month ago. Administrator was decided upon a week or so later. Formal announcement in Sept

— NASA Watch (@NASAWatch) August 15, 2017

Oh yes Jim Bridenstine = #NASA Administrator and John Schumacher = Deputy Administrator

— NASA Watch (@NASAWatch)

Fallin will call special session to adjust appropriations

Governor Mary Fallin Says Special Legislative Session Necessary to Adjust State Appropriations 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today said the Legislature must return in special session to deal with the $215 million shortfall caused by a proposed smoking cessation fee being struck down.

“No money can be spent from any state fund unless the Legislature specifically appropriates it,” said Fallin. “Let’s be clear. The director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) does not have the authority to transfer monies to the affected agencies from different sources without legislation directing him to do so.”

Article 5, Section 55 of the Oklahoma Constitution states that no money shall be paid out of the state treasury, except through an appropriation by law.

Source post

IED NAMES MARK WILLIAMS PRESIDENT

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, August 15, 2017 – The Research Institute for Economic Development (RIED) has named Mark Williams as president succeeding Susan Winchester who resigned recently to become chief-of-staff to Lt. Governor Todd Lamb. Williams joins RIED after a 36-year career with AT&T Oklahoma, serving since 2010 as Director-Legislative Affairs where he led the AT&T Oklahoma external affairs team on legislative matters at the state Capitol. Williams joined Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, now AT&T, in 1981.

“I am excited to join RIED and to work with our outstanding officers and directors as we continue to produce Oklahoma’s pre-eminent analysis of legislative voting patterns on business, job creation and economic development issues,” Williams said.  “For the past 20 years, RIED has established a respected reputation at the state Capitol, with the annual ‘RIED Report’ commonly anticipated following the end of the legislative session.  RIED’s positive impact since its inception is illustrated by the fact that legislative advocacy for business, job creation and economic growth has improved from 32% in 1998 to over 60% in 2017.”

Greg Love, RIED board chairman said, “I want to express how pleased we are to have another accomplished individual fill the position of RIED president. Mark has been involved with the state legislature for many years, and we are very confident he will do great work in his new position. Lastly, the RIED board thanks Susan Winchester, and wishes her success in her new position with Lt. Governor Lamb.”

Williams presently serves as Chairman of the Board of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits and Chair-Elect of the Oklahoma City All Sports Association.  He is the past board chairman of the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma, the Northwest Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma Baptist University Alumni Association.  He has, or is currently serving on the boards of the First Tee, Leadership Oklahoma, Youth Leadership Exchange, Sooner State Games and the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City, where he is also a Life Member.

Williams is a native Oklahoman, receiving a B.A. in Economics from Oklahoma Baptist University and a J.D. from Oklahoma City University. He is married to Carol Cathey Williams and they have two daughters and five grandchildren.

Research Institute for Economic Development was founded in 1997 and is a non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting economic growth through the evaluation of business, job and economic growth issues considered annually by the Oklahoma Legislature. RIED does not lobby issues or endorse candidates.

Muskogee Politico: Lamb names 'Oklahoma Economic Diversification' advisory committee

LAMB NAMES OKLAHOMA ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION COMMITTEE
Oklahoma Business Leaders to Support Efforts to Grow Oklahoma Exports

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – August 14, 2017 – Republican gubernatorial candidate Todd Lamb announced today the formation of his Oklahoma Economic Diversification Committee. The group of Oklahoma business leaders will advise on issues to help diversify Oklahoma’s economy through greater worldwide trade.

“Growing and strengthening Oklahoma’s economy, both within our borders and beyond, is a central component of my Renew Oklahoma plan,” Lamb said. “To that end, I am pleased to announce that prominent Oklahoma business leader Chuck Mills will serve as chairman of my Oklahoma Economic Diversification Committee. Chuck is chairman of the OK District Export Council and president of Mills Machine Company, a third-generation manufacturer located in Shawnee. I am honored to have his business expertise, experience and counsel, as well as that of the other committee members as I pursue the governor’s office.”

Small: Misleading statements by Osborn, Boren are harmful

Free Market Friday: Misleading statements harmful
Former House Appropriations and Budget Chair Leslie Osborn recently stated Oklahoma is “50th in the nation in tax collections.” Calling for more tuition and fee increases on working Oklahoma families, University of Oklahoma President David Boren made a similar dead-last claim regarding state support for higher education.

Despite Boren’s claims, the actual data show that Oklahoma ranks 31st in total state support for higher education. When adjusted for cost of living, on a per capita basis Oklahoma actually ranks 26th in state support for higher education.

Just as the actual data contradict President Boren’s claim, the undisputed data from the United States Census Bureau contradict Rep. Osborn’s statements, proving that we are far from being the lowest-taxed state.

Regarding Osborn’s assertion, the actual data show Oklahoma is not 50th in the nation. According to the latest available data from the Census Bureau, Oklahoma collects more in state taxes than Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Thus, Oklahoma ranks 31st, not 50th. Per capita, Oklahoma ranks 38th in tax collections. When adjusted for cost of living, Oklahoma ranks 36th in per capita tax collections.

What’s really astonishing is that the state managed to collect this level of revenue despite being in a recession while most states were not. Oklahoma lost 21,800 energy and manufacturing jobs, resulting in a loss of more than $13 billion in taxable income. Oklahomans reduced purchases subject to sales tax and use tax to the tune of $4.1 billion just to survive, according to available Oklahoma Tax Commission data. Given this, state government should not complain, and Oklahomans should be thanked for their sacrifice.

Throughout the 2017 legislative session, tax consumers tried to get lawmakers and the public to support more than $2 billion in tax increases. Despite these attempts, no tax increases were constitutionally passed by the Legislature.

It’s understandable why tax consumers are working so hard to get taxpayers to believe the 50th and dead-last mantra: They want Oklahomans to be in the psychological condition to support and accept massive tax increases.

While I believe Rep. Osborn cares about Oklahoma, misleading statements from public officials such as Osborn and Boren are harmful to efforts to find viable, long-term solutions.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (www.ocpathink.org). This column originally ran in the Journal Record.

Muskogee Politico: Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down cigarette tax

In a swift and unanimous decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the Cigarette Tax Smoking Cessation Fee passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Fallin violated the Oklahoma Constitution.

Here’s the summary from the opinion (which can be read in full at this link):

Petitioners, who are manufacturers, wholesalers, and consumers of cigarettes, challenged Senate Bill 845, alleging that it is a revenue bill enacted outside of the procedure mandated in Article V, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution. The parties agree that the passage of SB 845 did not comply with Article V, Section 33; so the case turns on whether SB 845 is the kind of “revenue bill” that Article V, Section 33 governs. Applying the test we have utilized since 1908, we conclude that the primary purpose of Sections 2, 7, 8, and 9 of SB 845 is to raise new revenue for the support of state government through the assessment of a new $1.50 excise tax on cigarettes and that, in doing so, SB 845 levies a tax in the strict sense. As such, Sections 2, 7, 8, and 9 of SB 845 comprise a revenue bill enacted in violation of Article V, Section 33 and are unconstitutional.

Continue reading: http://www.muskogeepolitico.com/2017/08/oklahoma-supreme-court-strikes-down.html

Muskogee Politico: House, Senate Democrats respond to cigarette tax ruling

The House and Senate Democratic caucuses have now issued statements over the Oklahoma Supreme Court striking down SB 845, the Cigarette Tax Smoking Cessation Fee.

House Democratic Caucus Releases Statement in Response to Oklahoma Court Ruling

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that Senate Bill 845 is unconstitutional.

SB845 was projected to raise more than $200 million for the current state budget by charging cigarette wholesalers a $1.50 per pack tax. During the legislative session, however, House Democrats warned Republicans that passing the unconstitutional legislation would have a detrimental impact on our state budget and state agencies. The measure passed the House with a partisan vote of 51 to 43.

The proposed revenue from the tax affects 7 percent of the appropriated budget to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, 10 percent of the appropriated budget to the Department of Human Services, and 23 percent of the appropriated budget to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

The court’s ruling will likely prompt a special session, costing the state an additional $30,000 per day, and requiring lawmakers to return to the capitol to fix the now incomplete budget.

“In order to appease special interests, Republicans made a decision to ignore the House Democratic Caucus, Oklahoma citizens and the Oklahoma Constitution,” said Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa. “As a result of that decision, we are now facing a $200 million hole in our current budget. It is time for the Republican Leadership to stop playing political games and to start working on real solutions to fund state government. As we have been all year, the Democratic Caucus stands ready to negotiate a long-term solution to fix Oklahoma’s funding crisis.”

Continue reading: http://www.muskogeepolitico.com/2017/08/house-senate-democrats-respond-to.html

Continuing comments on the Supreme Court striking down the Cigarette Tax Smoking Cessation Fee, here are statements from two of the top Republican candidates for governor: current Lieut. Gov. Todd Lamb and attorney Gary Richardson:

Lamb Issues Statement Regarding OSC Ruling on Cigarette Fee Proposal

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Lt. Governor Todd Lamb issued the following statement this morning regarding the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling that a proposed fee increase on cigarettes is unconstitutional:

“I am not surprised by the court’s ruling regarding the cigarette fee measure as I believe it contradicts the intent of SQ 640. With the ruling, the legislature must now focus first and foremost on identifying existing state funds to allocate to the healthcare-related programs that were scheduled to receive appropriations from the cigarette fee measure. It is my belief this can be done without drastic cuts to agencies. State government can and must operate more efficiently, and this ruling provides an excellent opportunity to start that process.”

Continue reading: http://www.muskogeepolitico.com/2017/08/lamb-richardson-comment-on-oklahoma.html