How would you spend $3 billion? Some beach houses, sports cars, maybe a huge gift to feed the hungry? Well, Oklahoma’s state leaders have an extra $2.6 billion in spending authority for Fiscal Year 2024.
The Legislature convenes on Monday, February 6, and the annual game begins to decide how your tax dollars are allocated.
Let’s try a thought experiment this week. I’m going to give you several options and let you decide how the money should be spent. You can let me know what you think the top priority should be by responding via email, Facebook, or Twitter.
Option 1: You can return money to the taxpayers in the form of a rebate. After the gusher of revenue that poured into our state from $35 billion in COVID relief money and high energy prices, we really don’t know what our stable revenue base is. Therefore, we need to make sure that the major outlays are one-time expenses. Other states have sent as much as $500 back to individual households.
Option 2: You can pay down debt or pension liabilities to reduce the cost of annual interest payments. For example, you could inject $1 billion into the Teacher Retirement System which is only 73% funded, and free up over $200 million of annual deposits for a permanent tax cut.
Option 3: You can fix some more roads and infrastructure. We’ve made immense progress with the ROADS Annual Fund to repair deficient bridges in the state, but there are hundreds of miles in rural Oklahoma where two-lane roads need shoulders to improve safety and save lives.
As a Tulsa businessman and former Secretary of Budget, I have some strong opinions about spending priorities, but I’d like to hear your thoughts! Please let me know if your priority is a tax rebate, paying down debt, or fixing roads. Reach me on Facebook and Twitter at @mazzeimike or through the www.mikemazzei.com website.