Column by Fred Morgan, President & CEO of the State Chamber, published in the Journal Record on October 12, 2018
Most Oklahomans know our state can and must do better if we want our children and grandchildren to stay in our state. We must have higher expectations; an efficient government, a stable state budget and an education system that produces better results for our children.
The status quo forces advocating for more taxes, more government regulation and doing things the way they’ve always been done – which is demonstrably wrong. It’s time to embrace new ideas. That is why the State Chamber worked to create a bold strategic vision plan, OK2030. Last session alone, the State Chamber helped pass 35 pieces of legislation relating to 13 key recommendations in the plan.
Three state questions relating to the recommendations will be on the ballot this November. These measures don’t raise taxes on any family or business and provide Oklahoma with a stronger foundation as we go into the next decade.
• SQ 798: Establishes a joint ticket for the top two statewide offices, governor and lieutenant governor. This measure will create a more effective executive branch, allowing for unified vision and stronger leadership working toward shared goals.
• SQ 800: Sets 5 percent of existing tax revenue from oil and natural gas into an investment fund – called the Oklahoma Vision Fund – to be managed by the state treasurer. Income from the fund would be placed in the state’s general revenue fund to supplement and stabilize the state budget. Virtually every other energy-producing state has a fund like this to buffer state budgets from market volatility. If this fund had been created in 1990, we would have been able to provide every Oklahoma teacher a $2,500 raise this year without raising taxes or cutting services.
• SQ 801: Would change the way that school districts can use existing property taxes in their building funds. SQ 801 would enable local school districts to use money currently restricted to construction, remodeling, landscaping and maintenance for school district operations. This allows local school boards and superintendents to prioritize teacher pay, textbooks, or classroom supplies if it makes sense locally. This outdated restriction has limited local tax dollars from being spent in the classroom for more than 60 years, and the vast majority of states do not have similar restrictions.
We ask for your vote on the last three state questions as we seek a better government with greater stability and a brighter future for Oklahoma.