The state of Oklahoma is in an education crisis with over $176 million cuts in this year. With the state facing a budget crisis, it’s especially important we work to ensure your tax dollars are used effectively and look for reforms to provide efficiencies. This year, the Senate has passed important reforms to cut through red tape in education, eliminate duplicate overhead in public safety, and reform the budget process to provide more transparency and allow the state to prepare better for future emergencies. These reforms will help us deal with the current budget crisis while providing Oklahoma with a smaller, smarter, more effective government.
It is all about prioritizing what is most important for our families and our future generations. I have identified many areas of waste where we are currently spending money that need to be reduced to help solve our education problems with the state.
Here are areas of waste I have identified where we can save money and not have massive cuts in education:
- The state regents for higher education are spending $20 million to build a monastery in Italy.
- Implementation of House Bill 1567, the Health Insurance Reform Act, saving the state $95 million.
- A $5 million cap on tax credit on CNG vehicles, saving $5.6 million.
- Eliminate telecommunication audits for state agencies, saving $3 million.
- Elimination of state funding for JM Davis Historical museum, saving $300,000.
- Make the insurance dept not appropriated, saving $1.8 million.
- Eliminate subsidies on losses for state owned golf courses, saving $200,000.
- Eliminate the subsidies for the heartland flyer train, saving $3 million.
- Deregulation costs eliminating end of year testing by McGraw Hill to say students are passing, saving $18 million.
The Senate has shown its commitment to reforms that save tax dollars, eliminate red tape, and efficiencies. We’re going to have to make cuts, but we can pass a balanced budget that protects core services from drastic cuts if we take this opportunity to implement reforms and truly set the state’s spending priorities. For example, the Senate unanimously passed a bill to eliminate the end of instruction exams, addressing the concerns of parents and teachers of having too many mandated tests. By eliminating these exams, the state could potentially save millions.
We have $1.3 billion crisis that should be seen as a $1.3 billion opportunity. We need to put the dollars back where they count with education. Oklahoma’s budget is on the table and we need to take a scalpel approach to the budget, rather than a sledgehammer, that is going to affect our state in a negative way. We are all stakeholders in Oklahoma’s future. Focusing on ways that fund our priorities, like education, while utilizing common sense strategies, will prove profitable today and for generations to come.