What bills are moving? This week we’re letting you know about some priority bills we are watching. Be ready for our action alerts, but remind your legislators of your priorities early and often.
- Top Priorities
- Upcoming events
- Call to Action
TOK Top Priorities
Our three priorities are already making waves at the state capitol, and your legislators need to know how you want them to vote:
Protect essential revenues
With Oklahoma facing another budget shortfall, every penny counts!
Stop unaffordable tax cuts
Bill Watch!: A House tax cut bill passed in committee by a VERY NARROW vote of 11-9. The bill would automatically reduce the top income tax rate to 5 percent next year or as soon as revenue increases. Check here to see who voted how. If you see YOUR legislator on this list NOW is a good time to call and praise them if they voted “Nay” or ask them why and express your disappointment if they voted “Yay”. They need to hear from you!
Bill Watch!: The full Senate passed another tax cut bill that could become law if it passes the House. It could trigger an automatic tax cut next year to 5 percent and another one in 2016 to 4.85 percent, as soon as revenue increases. Check here to see who voted how. Your Senator is on this list! NOW is a good time to call and praise them if they voted “Nay” or ask them why and express your disappointment if they voted “Yay”. They need to hear from you!
Read the terrible thing about triggers!
Find who your legislators are and how to contact them here.
Quotable comment: “There seems to be no long-range strategic plan considering overall impacts of cuts on services and magically, if we reduce taxes an increase in business and sales will make up the difference. It sounds like trickle-down economics, but there are too many variables. You could not run a business this way.” -Phil Busey, CEO of the Busey Group of Companies in Oklahoma City, writing in The Edmond Sun about why further tax cuts make no sense right now (Source)
Reign in unnecessary tax breaks
Fast fact: In a scientific poll of Oklahoma registered voters, 59 percent said we should eliminate the tax break for horizontal drilling to provide more funding for public services.
Quotable comment: “The same activity is taxed at roughly 11.5 percent in North Dakota. Guess what? They’re drilling like mad in North Dakota!” -Ken Levit, executive director of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, on why energy companies don’t need a tax break that drops the tax rate on horizontal wells to 1 percent in Oklahoma (Source)
Restore Education Funding
Bill Watch!: Normally a school district would be fined if they couldn’t uphold standards like the minimum number of counselors or teachers per child. Oklahoma can’t maintain these standards and others — like up to date textbooks and media equipment — because they are already so grossly underfunded.
House Bill (HB 2500) extends the moratorium on school standards while funding is down. That means instead of finding ways to increase school funding to acceptable levels this year, we are lowering the standards for what we expect them to do. These standards have been suspended for several years. and we can expect more of this as long as we continue to neglect education funding.
Quotable comment: “Years ago, I often heard companies say the cost of doing business was their No. 1 concern. During my time in the Tulsa Regional Chamber and now as secretary of state, I am increasingly hearing from employers who say that an educated workforce, supported by strong public education, is the most important factor in deciding where to locate or expand.” -Secretary of State Chris Benge (Source)
Read one parent’s dream list of what they want for their child’s school and think of how this compares to what our public schools are and what you want.
Expand health coverage
Quotable comment: “If there were insurance, I think there would be enough professionals. The problem is so many people in Oklahoma are either not insured or underinsured. Unfortunately, even therapy goes where the money is.”-Philip Hyde, a clinical psychologist in Oklahoma City, speaking about the shortage of mental health professionals in Oklahoma (Source)
Read about the devastating delays for Oklahomans with severe developmental disabilities waiting to receive at-home care.
The Together Oklahoma Team is scheduling gatherings around the state. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to help or host and check out our calendar for upcoming events.
Call to Action
NOW is the time to write a hand written letter to you legislator so that they know your priorities before they go to vote. No doubt your legislator is about vote on something that matters to you. Do they know who you are? Do they know that you are watching and will vote according to how well they meet your expectations? Don’t wait to introduce yourself. Communicate politely, concisely, early and often to be most effective.
We are the INFO and YOU are the ACTION!
KNOW the issues, CONNECT with fellow citizens and your lawmakers, and COMMUNICATE your values and priorities. For example, this week you can:
KNOW: There are bills coming up for a vote this week. Do you know how your legislator stands on the ones that matter to you? Check out OK Policy’s bill tracker and ASK your legislator how they plan to vote.
CONNECT: Do your friends around the state know how you feel about these priorities and others? Caring about our future is more fun and effective when we do it together! You can share our links on social media every day. Sometimes an old fashioned phone call or personal email makes a better connection, eh? Your legislator may listen to you but your friend’s legislator isn’t going to worry if you don’t plan to vote for them. They have a stake in this and have a vote too, eh? Don’t leave them out!
COMMUNICATE: Follow up! Oklahoma lawmakers know that the lobbyists will be keeping track of how they vote, right? At this time most legislators are fairly confident that their constituents aren’t paying attention. Prove them wrong! Take note of how your legislator votes and call to let them know how you feel about it, good or bad. Together we are building trust that Oklahoma citizen voices matter!