Monday, January 4, 2010

Oklahoma's Budget Crisis






Our 12 noon luncheon for Wednesday, January 6th will be held at Italiano’s restaurant, 4801 North Lincoln in OKC. Our speaker, flying in from out of state for this weeks meeting will be Tim Cox, founder and director of a new political party/movement called GOOOH (pronounced go) which stands for, Get Out Of Our House. Part of their agenda is to turn over the entire U.S. House of Representatives. Mr.

Cox will thoroughly explain his organization, its methods and goals.

After spending some time on the goooh site, I agree with Mr. Cox that we have serious problems in America. The challenge always gets down to how to fix those problems. So far it has been nearly impossible to get everyone on the same page for a strategy to make positive changes (its even hard to agree on the meaning of positive in such cases). Mr. Cox is attempting to create a national movement which is a monumental task. It should be most interesting to see if his ideas have merit or do they simply represent the latest design of a windmill flailing in a storm? Please come with discerning ears, attentive minds and thoughtful questions.


+ THURSDAY - TULSA AREA - OKlahomans For Sovereignty And Free

Enterprise (OK-SAFE) will hold their monthly meeting in the Tulsa area this Thursday, January 7th. The location will be the Hardesty Library, 93rd and South Memorial. The meeting will be from 6:30 until 8:00 p.m.. I don’t have an agenda for this meeting, but they are always educational and interesting.

+ SATURDAY - OKC AREA - The Oklahoma City Tea Party is hosting an

indoor tea party meeting and fund raising concert. The location is the Coca-Cola Bricktown Events Center, 425 East California. Since it is a fund raiser there is a cost of $10 to attend if you want to stand or $20 if you want a seat. For tickets log on to The doors will open at 6:00. There will be an open microphone for people to make a brief speech starting at 6:15 and the program will begin at 7:00 p.m.. The tea party movement has been an important part of an awakening this year and it has also served an important part in putting pressure on primarily the federal government in its attempts to change the future of America. Besides some great speakers, there will be a concert for those in attendance to enjoy.

+ JANUARY 22ND & 23RD - OKC AREA - Just another reminder about this

year’s Clouds Over America Conference to be held on Friday afternoon through Saturday morning on the above mentioned dates. This will possibly be the most important and substantive conference held in the State of Oklahoma this year. I want to urge everyone to make an effort to make it a priority to attend. For more information and reservations, please call (405) 348-9991 weekdays from 9:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.


The recession as reflected in revenues to state government, has finally arrived in Oklahoma, thought our unemployment numbers are still far below the national average. State leaders have been forcing state agencies to pare back on spending by 5% each month for some time until recently when they upped that number to 10%. I can hear the “sky if falling” squeals all the way to where I live which is about 25 miles North of the Capitol.

I don’t want to suggest a recession wouldn’t have an adverse effect on government revenues, regardless of policies enacted in past legislative sessions. However, there are some policies that represent vultures coming home to extract a price in a down economy. I want to mention a few of these vultures.

First, past legislative sessions have given control of spending to citizens with programs like tax rebates for purchasing “street legal”

electric automobiles. The legislation which will pay for 50% of the cost of an electric car to anyone wanting to purchase such a vehicle was passed several years ago. The program limped along without much participation for several years until this year when President Obama and the Democrats held out a fist full of unconstitutional federal dollars to enhance the program. Since citizens could obtain one of these mostly glorified golf carts at almost no cost to themselves, the participation shot through the roof. Estimated cost to the state of Oklahoma, $40 million dollars. Lawmakers passed a bad piece of legislation which gave self serving citizens control over spending tax dollars. That vulture is now coming home to roost.

Second, over many years now, even in good times, when we had hundreds of millions in new growth monies (budget surpluses) our lawmakers weren’t satisfied with all the new monies, so they obligated us for bonded indebtedness. Therefore much of the limited revenues coming into state coiffures today are already obligated to make payments on past debts.

As an example, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) will have to use a shrinking amount of federal highway dollars to pay back bonds floated for past road projects. The road funding for Oklahoma from Obama’s Stimulus Project is nearing completion. These newly printed federal reserve notes (these aren’t tax dollars we have sent to Washington, they are newly printed dollars which will never be paid back, but the interest on them will become a burden on all of us and especially our children and grandchildren for many years to come) are a short term funding boost for our roads.

However, I asked a question in a previous e-mail, would it be more responsible for the feds to print these new dollars and send them to the states for up to 2 years and then the program would end, or should we raise the federal gas tax by 5 to 7 cents? If the latter, the new revenues would be ongoing far past the 2 years? This would also be a “pay as you go” method of funding better roads and not increase our debt. Of course I don’t favor this approach at this time because an estimated 30% of the road funds already collected are diverted to other uses such at public transit, Amtrack, jogging and bike trails as well as beatification projects.

Speaking of beautification projects, have you seen the art work on newly built bridges and underpasses in Oklahoma? Some of the art work is attractive and some of it is coyote ugly. Regardless of your opinion to its esthetic value, it is expensive. Just a few years ago, the legislature passed a law requiring, I believe it was 5% of the cost of all new capitol projects (buildings, roads & etc.) built in Oklahoma to be devoted to art work incorporated into the projects. In a day of declining state revenues and especially highway dollars, these vultures are really coming home to roost.

One of the first things our legislature should do this year would be to repeal that foolish law. I really support property owners along our highways keeping their fields in order along with improvements and buildings looking nice, but I want my road dollars used effectively. I want roads and bridges to be functional, not artistic, especially at great expense and misuse of limited road dollars.

During the 2009 legislative session our lawmakers floated a 25 million dollar bond to build low water dams on the Arkansas river to create an entertainment district. By the time it is paid back with interest, it will probably cost the taxpayers close to 50 million for 25 million worth of work. The year before we borrowed another 25 million to go toward building a new Indian Culture Center in OKC, that just after incurring millions of dollars in debt to build a new historical center about 3 miles away which prominently features, as it should, the Indian heritage of Oklahoma. Just more vultures looking for a place to roost. These kind of examples could go on an on.

Representative Jason Murphy (R-Guthrie) is a staunch opponent of all this debt spending. As he said in a speech recently, lawmakers do these bills in many cases to satisfy a special interest or constituent. In other cases they are done because of the instant gratification society by which we have been conditioned to live in as well as the credit they receive for passing something, perhaps even a legacy piece of legislation. However, buy today, pay for it tomorrow kinds of legislation often times create real problems in tight times when the buzzards and vultures come home to roost.

In tight times there may be even more pressure to pass these kinds of buy today-pay tomorrow pieces of legislation, especially from entities such as higher education. As one example, the city of Edmond and UCO are lusting after the possibility of building a new state medical examiner’s office on the campus of UCO, next to their high tech crime fighting facilities. In the long term, this may be good for the taxpayers of Oklahoma, but it should be done with money on hand, not more bonded indebtedness. The project may be in the $30 million range.

Bottom line, in the spirit of our founders and the letter of the Oklahoma State Constitution, we should pay as we go and not continue to borrow and pay interest to fund state government. Any future debt is squarely upon the shoulders of the Republicans in the legislature, they are now in control. In addition, properly prioritizing state spending and crafting a future budget is also in their hands, with the exception of cooperation with the governor’s office. After all, he does have a veto pen and he is a Democrat.


As a reminder, everyone’s 2009 membership in OCPAC expired as of December 31st. The only exception are those who are having us draft their checking accounts for either $15 or $30 per month. Those memberships continue on, unless we are contacted to stop those monthly drafts. Therefore, folks need to renew their memberships, hopefully as soon as possible. I believe we will be voting on endorsements by mid to late February and you must have your dues paid 2 weeks prior to any vote. As of January 1st we have already have 46 dues paying members join OCPAC. Thanks so much for that kind of confidence and support. To join, please see the instructions following my sign off. One more thing, if anyone wants to communicate with me by way of e-mail, you can’t hit reply to the OCPAC e-mail, you must send me an e-mail directly to me at the following address:

I look forward to seeing everyone this Wednesday.

Charlie Meadows

To join OCPAC fill out the following and send your check to:


P.O. Box 2021

Edmond, OK 73083

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