There is a saying in business – you can do a lot of things poorly or a few things really well. This explains Oklahoma’s approach to finances for its first 100 years.
State leaders did not leverage the good times of growth and surplus revenue to fully target that which most leads to growth and prosperity – education and a tax code to attract capital and jobs. Our bottom ten education outcomes are inexcusable, and our tax code still impedes our financial progress.
During my time in the state senate, I witnessed two governors fall prey to the temptation of overspending, cutting taxes without reform, and rolling out expensive tax credits. The Henry administration left $2.00 in the State’s primary savings account, and the Fallin administration was forced to raise taxes after huge budget shortfalls.
I truly hope this time around state leaders learn from history and avoid the mistakes of the past. This is the time to give parents more control over where their children attend schools, pay teachers a lot more, and require new levels of accountability and transparency in all 500+ school districts. Only with a comprehensive strategy and proper financial resources can we get most of our kids proficient in reading and math.
Additionally, instead of arguing about tax cuts after the COVID helicopter money gave us a rush of revenue that is unsustainable, we should just send every Oklahoma taxpayer a rebate check of $500. Then we can turn to the hard work of making Oklahoma a no-income-tax state.