By Josh Brecheen, The Conservative Voice

Conservative and liberal Oklahomans agree on something of significant substance – our state wastes too much money.

SoonerPoll surveyed 587 likely voters from July to August 2011 and asked the following question: “Do you think that Oklahoma State Government wastes a lot of money we pay in taxes, wastes some of it, or doesn’t waste very much of it?” The response was as follows:

51% said “Wastes a Lot”, 36% said “Wastes some”, 8% said “Doesn’t waste very much”, 2% had no opinion or were neutral, and 3% refused to answer or didn’t know.

So what can we gather? Those that identify themselves as very liberal and those that identify themselves as conservative were only three percentage points apart on agreeing that Oklahoma state government “Wastes a Lot”.

Oklahomans are stating loud and clear they want smarter, leaner and more efficiently-run government and that coincides with personal convictions.

You will spend your money much more efficiently than the government can and that’s why we must do everything we can to ensure your tax dollars are only utilized to meet true needs.There absolutely is a balance between maintaining a competitive tax environment that attracts industry while simultaneously ensuring we have a skilled and educated workforce, quality transportation and a safe living environment. Because of this, vital government services should be prioritized including: strong public safety, safe roads and bridges and a competitive educational system. As long as waste continues and dollars are siphoned off (unnecessarily), those needs won’t be effectively met.

As a conservative majority, we are sincerely examining tax credits to eliminate those that do not lead to job creation and increased revenue.

Some have been identified, and I look forward to a repeal of those that do not lead to job creation and more revenue. Tax credits serve a purpose in certain areas in attracting industry and jobs that otherwise would not come to our state. However, this system has been misused at times and needs reform. The use of tax credits should be at a minimum as tax credits are only a band-aid and are secondary in effectiveness behind a lowered individual and corporate tax rate for all.

Even with state revenues having been above projections for the past several months, it is NOT going to be enough to offset a backlog of liabilities. We start off this next session with a backlog of needs and promises (made in years past) that must be kept. Those promises include those made to teachers (flex benefit and National Board certification) and county governments (disaster payments, ad valorem reimbursement, etc). Beyond these promises, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is likely to be short 1,000 beds due to the growth of inmate populations currently burdening county jails, our roads and bridges are in need of major improvement, and state bonding must be diminished. We are now at that place in state government after three years of reduced revenue where we must look intently for waste or program duplication.

Lean years are disheartening, however, we are blessed to live in a state that has the foresight to make annual tough choices and balance our budget. With all of our households currently prioritizing needs during these lean economic times, so should our state government.

Additional government expenditures for true needs can be found by eliminating duplication; and I am devoted to moving those dollars appropriately. I want to encourage all of you to continue providing information about where you see waste in our state government. If you know of some state expenditure (that is not effective, essential or a state priority) that could be better spent on a true need, please let me know. As the bill filing deadline approaches, I look forward to taking your ideas to the capitol. We will never begin to enter a heightened state of prosperity until we are efficient in our use of tax dollars.

I also want to urge you to contact your U. S. Congressman and U.S. Senators on federal abuse of your federal tax expenditures. Yes, federal expenditure is totally out of control, but it will never change without our voices being heard, so please take the time to do so. Your voice does matter. For federally run/controlled programs like Social Security (1-800-269-0271), Medicare or Medicaid fraud (1-800-447-8477), please call in specific fraud examples to these appropriate federal hotlines so investigations can be initiated. It’s your money!

To contact me at the Capitol, please write to Senator Josh Brecheen, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 513A, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at brecheen@oksenate.gov, or call (405) 521-5586.

From the Durant Daily Democrat

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