Then there’s this rhetorical gem from conservative Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller about the state’s major fiscal crisis, “. . . we’ve seen this cycle before and know Oklahoma will recover – hopefully having learned lessons on how to better weather the storm the next time.”
It's not over yet. The drop in Oklahoma Gross Receipts to the Treasury continues https://t.co/prUj6cR6aQ
— Treasurer Ken Miller (@OKTreasurer) April 6, 2016
This obvious downplaying of the ongoing economic devastation in Oklahoma—no big deal people, happens all the time—came in a news release that reports extremely grim statistics about March gross receipts. Miller says revenues in March were the lowest for its month in the last four years. Miller also reports, “Monthly collections from oil and natural gas production taxes have been lower than the same month of the prior year for 15 consecutive months.”
Yes, “we’ve seen this cycle before,” but only in extremely precarious times, such as the 1980s or, yes, even during The Great Depression in the 1930s. We’re in a period of revenue failure in state government, which faces a $1.3 billion budget shortfall next fiscal year beginning in July. The layoffs continue in the oil and gas industry and related fields. The state is now planning a full-out assault on state health care systems through Medicaid cuts, which I wrote about in my last post.
Great Depression irony as people wait in breadline in Ohio 1937. pic.twitter.com/qYTswtsKzx
— Historical Images (@Historicalmages) April 5, 2016
Make no mistake that Miller and his fellow Republicans, whether in a spoken or unspoken orchestrated effort, are trying to downplay the negative impact their conservative policies have had on the state. But they can only hide for so long, and they can’t hide it through the November elections, which is what they really want to do.
While some states built financial cushions during the country’s fracking boom, Oklahoma conservatives cut taxes for oil and gas companies. While some states found ways to give adequate funding to schools, Oklahoma conservatives cut education funding the most of any state in the nation since 2008 even during boom times. While some states realized increasing and stabilizing revenues were important during the most recent recession, Oklahoma conservatives cut income taxes that overwhelmingly benefited the state’s wealthiest residents.
Conservative dominance at the state Capitol has been an unmitigated and unqualified disaster. Conservatives here have broke and embarrassed the state with outlandish, magical-thinking fiscal policies and legislation based on bigotry and/or radical, right-wing religious extremism.
People here used to think “liberal” was some terrible word. What about the word “conservative” these days in Oklahoma?
I realize I’m sounding like a stuck record here on this issue, but conservatives will never concede the damage they’ve caused to the state and all of us, and I’m unsure why the Oklahoma Democratic Party isn’t holding a press conference virtually every single day over the latest depressing financial news.
Here’s the main talking point for the Democrats: Conservatives broke Oklahoma. Say it often and loudly. Conservatives broke Oklahoma. Bang the pots and pans. Speak up. Run for office in droves. Speak truth to conservative power. It’s only going to get worse if people remain on the sidelines, much worse.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 5, 2016