NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
Over the past several weeks, three seemingly unrelated events caught my attention.
First, near the end of the legislative session, the House and Senate passed with much fanfare and publicity legislation giving many state employees a raise. Mere days after this, they very quietly passed a budget that reduced state agency appropriations by virtually the same amount. The raise, averaging less than a dollar per hour, would therefore be financed by agencies cutting services, leaving positions vacant or both.
Second, just before the end of the session, the Legislature passed and Governor Fallin signed into law a measure prohibiting any Oklahoma government entity — i.e., municipal, city, town, county government — from increasing the minimum wage above that set by the state. This effectively eliminated any possibility that the most poorly paid workers in Oklahoma would receive any sort of raise in the foreseeable future.
Third, last week a two paragraph report appeared on page six of the Norman Transcript. The Oklahoma State Treasurer reported that tax collections were well short of projections because there was a significant shortfall of corporate tax receipts versus estimates. The reduction of corporate and business taxes and the so-callled death (inheritance) tax have been a priority of Governor Fallin and legislative leadership to make Oklahoma more “business friendly.”
At first brush, these stories appear unrelated. At the same time, these events could be viewed as parts of a strategy and a disturbing deliberate pattern. It is possible that Oklahoma state leaders are systematically engineering favorable conditions for corporations, business and the rich by ignoring and slighting needs of the vast majority of Oklahomans. Of course, this is my opinion. I could be wrong.
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