Perspectives: Sam’s Perspective – Budget Woes

I’m Sam Jones.

I’ve been thinking,….about our state budget  woes.

This is a great state, but it seems as though because of the budget shortage, just about every state department is facing less money to work with. Then along comes the governor with a bag full of ideas she says will fix the problems. Among her ideas were a couple that caught my eye.   One had to do with raising the price of school lunches and applying the increase to teacher raises. Do you suppose she knows the high number of students that already qualify for financial assistance to pay for their lunches? She also mentioned raising the price of prescription medication and using that increase to help with the budget. What she didn’t mention is why, knowing we were facing such a large budget crisis, she allowed a tax cut to go into effect last month.

Here is something else she didn’t mention in her State of the State speech.  According to  a story in the Tulsa World,  thousands of Oklahoma state employees were given raises last year, despite dire warnings of an approaching budget shortfall and a salary freeze ordered by the governor.  The report went on to say,  state agencies also promoted over 1000 employees and hired several thousand more to fill vacancies. Turns out, Governor Fallin’s “personnel freeze” wasn’t much of a freeze at all.  According to the story in the Tulsa World, the governor gave each of her cabinet secretaries, the authority to grant exceptions to the freeze, when justification could be shown.   So, it appears they took that football and ran with it.  According to the Tulsa World, over 13-thousand waivers were filed.

Remember too that the Governor refused to accept millions of dollars from the Federal government that was available under the affordable care act.  That money would have helped hundreds of thousands without health care insurance and would have taken a great deal of pressure off of rural hospitals.

Before I close, what about spending in the Attorney General’s office?  According to NewsOK, the office of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a small government advocate, has grown in a time of state cutbacks,… moving into expanded and higher priced office space  and adding  dozens of new employees, thus boosting expenditures.  You might want to question how many lawsuits has he filed against the Federal government, how  many has he lost and what did all that cost? As I understand it, The Governor would like to run for Congress and the Attorney General intends to run for Governor.   You just got to love Oklahoma politics.

Some once said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” But it was Will Rogers who pointed out back in 1930, “You can’t get money without taking it from somebody.”

That’s my perspective.