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The Conservative View - Inherited amnesia

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STILWELL, Okla. -- We humans seem to be a species that has a case of chronic amnesia; we as a society will fight to correct an evil, then we will sit back and allow all of those efforts to be nullified. In the upcoming session of the state legislature, House Speaker Pro Tempore Harold Wright, R-Weatherford, has authored legislation to weaken State Question 640, which was passed in March of 1992.

SQ640 requires a three-fourths vote of both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Senate to raise taxes upon the citizens of Oklahoma. House Joint Resolution 1032 is an attempt to lower the 75% majority to 60%. While some people have forgotten the reason we passed SQ640, I have not. I want to share my memories of that time.

Our state government was run by a bunch of power brokers who were only concerned with getting re-elected  and their main allies were the special interest groups that came to the capitol with lots of money in their pockets to hand out in the form of campaign donations. The average hardworking taxpayer of Oklahoma was ignored because most of us did not have the money to purchase influence.

It was the prominent people, the unions and the upper echelon who were listened to; we mere mortals were supposed to sit back and take whatever they decided to dish out to us and just keep our mouths shut.  

Fortunately we have the initiative petition process; with a lot of work we were able to put some restraints on an out of control state government with SQ640. Instead of citizens having to carry petitions across our entire state, the state legislature could have passed legislation that would have put the question on the ballot, but we knew we had about as much chance of that happening as a snowball surviving in hell.

Now let’s jump forward in time to today. Now we have a bunch of prominent people, the unions and the upper echelon, calling themselves Step Up Oklahoma who, in my opinion, should be calling themselves Step Back Oklahoma. They are supporting a host of major tax increases and the weakening of SQ640.

The sad fact is very little has changed since the early 1990’s; these guys can just say the word and a bunch of so-called conservative lawmakers are ready to give them an audience.  I wonder how many of our lawmakers would be so enthusiastic to meet with the small businessmen and average workers of our state.

Since the original SQ640 was put on the ballot by the petition process, I think it would be a good idea for Harold Wright and the Step Up group to carry petitions to get any modification on the ballot. From my point of view they are using the good ole boy system to get it on the ballot and are evidently too lazy to collect signatures.

I have very strong feeling about SQ640; I was one of the many patriots of Oklahoma who took our time to get the necessary signatures to get it on the ballot. While we are told that our state government needs more money, when you look at the trends of state spending it has only went up.

State Question 640 is working exactly as it was intended, without it all of us would have many more taxes to pay. Our legislature has a lot of gall wanting to remove some of the protections that we all worked so hard for. The recent disclosure of the wasted money in the Oklahoma Health Department is a classic example, before any new taxes are proposed all departments need to be audited. I am going to be watching how our legislators vote on weakening SQ640. I don’t care what party a legislator belongs to, if they vote to gut 640 I urge everyone to work to put them out of office.

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About the Author

Russell Turner
Russell Turner was born in Tahlequah Oklahoma and has lived his entire life in rural Adair...
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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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