Monday, August 4, 2008

Listening To The People

This year I was very grateful to all of the people who took the time to return my constituent surveys.

While the results of the returned surveys were immediately tabulated, following the close of this year's session one of my tasks was to review each one of the hundreds of returned surveys and index them to the individual submitter and review the additional individual comments that were submitted. I very much appreciate the time that so many of you invested in insuring that your feedback was received and enjoyed reviewing your comments and suggestions.

One of the things that really stood out to me was the passion conveyed on some of the surveyed issues. Not content to just express their point of view with a vote they felt it important to include additional comments stating how they felt.

Some of the most forceful opposition was to the 60 million dollar tax refund for the National Basketball Association's Seattle Supersonics organization. In a time when the people are paying more for everything from property taxes, college tuition, food, fuel, energy to water there is little appetite for the idea of giving massive subsidies to the targeted organizations who can afford to pay for the high priced lobbyists necessary to secure the subsidy.

Making matters even worse is the manner in which the 60 million dollar subsidy was given. The normally slow moving gears of government were greased beyond belief as the subsidy flew through the legislative process so as to occur just days before the National Basketball Association Board of Governors voted to allow the team to relocate to Oklahoma City. It certainly would have exposed the fallacy of targeted tax subsidies if the subsidy would have been awarded after the team was already moving. Few people honestly believe that the team wouldn't have moved to Oklahoma City had it not been for the subsidy. And, how many other such subsidies are being given away under the guise of attracting business to the state when that business would relocate without the subsidy?

Instead of giving targeted breaks to the few it is important for the leaders of Oklahoma to work for across the board tax reduction for all of the people.

Another issue that the people are not happy about is the failure of the state government to enact property tax reform. Each year many of the people's property tax bills grow by about 5% which is where the ability of the assessors to increase taxes is capped. A bill was proposed that would take a small step forward towards reform by lowering the cap to 3% but was killed in a House Committee after achieving passage in the Senate. Unlike the Sonics subsidy, the machinery of state government acted like it all too often does when a reform proposal comes forward. It managed to find a way to kill the bill.

Again, I am very appreciative to all of the people who took the time to respond to the survey and to send their comments and suggestions.

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