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Letters to the Editor

Brake dancing with facts

D.W. Tiffee July 31st, 2013

Mike Brake (Letters to the editor, “Big, bloated government,” July 3, Oklahoma Gazette) wails about government waste, but given complete Republican control of state government, why was vital education funding slashed 20.6 percent between 2008-2013 while the pork goes untouched? Why are Oklahomans being slammed with a 50-percent tax increase to renew their drivers’ licenses?

State employees, including the corrections officers and state troopers who protect us, haven’t received a pay raise since 2006, but our country-club Republicans allocated $7 million to needlessly remodel Capitol legislative offices, including a conference room “complete with a catering area and offices.”

We incarcerate over 26,000 people (27 percent for drug offenses), costing hundreds of millions and leaving 27,000 children without at least one parent, but former Oklahoman editorial page editor Pat McGuigan says prison reform is being “deliberately gutted” by the governor, who “wants to kill” the 2012 Justice Reinvestment Initiative. Our loopy Texas neighbors, no sissies on crime, lead the nation in lowering incarceration rates and prison costs.

Brake grumbles about higher education, but the State Chamber concludes our public colleges and universities have an estimated return on investment of $4.72 for every $1 of tax funding, so why has state funding gone from 38.6 percent of the University of Oklahoma’s budget in 1986 to 11.3 percent in 2012 under Republicans?

Associated Press says Gov. Mary Fallin’s initial tax cut will save taxpayers an average of $80 a year, a lousy $6.66 a month. Is the foul stench of excrement in the Capitol the GOP’s legislative bowel movements, or is it the devil’s breath from the portal to hell opened by the 666 tax cut? And do we really need to spend $120 million to gold-plate our dilapidated Capitol shack into the Taj Mahal? A Capitol framed by yellow crime scene tape is pretty hilarious.

The vote that exempts all intangible personal property will reduce revenues $72-$107 million; gross production taxes fell $209 million because of a recent tax cut, and state Department of Human Resources reforms will cost an extra $100 million a year. We can’t afford to lose another $237 million.

We would have to increase state and local spending $6.6 billion to reach the national per capita average, $9.2 billion more to match New Mexico, Colorado $5.8 billion more, Kansas $3.7 billion, Texas $540 million and Missouri $160 million. Where’s the beef?

—D.W. Tiffee, Norman

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