Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

May 6, 2013

Education, budget center of discussion

TAHLEQUAH — Local residents learned about the latest state budget deal, as lawmakers discussed issues during the Legislative Focus session Thursday at the United Keetoowah Band Elder Center.

Sen. Earl Garrison, D-Muskogee; Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah; and Rep. Will Fourkiller, D-Stilwell, were on hand to answer questions and talk about recent action at the capitol.

Fourkiller said he’s heard this legislative session is expected to end two weeks early.

“We still have a lot of bills that need to be heard, so I’ll be surprised if it happens,” said Fourkiller. “As far as the budget is concerned, numbers have come out that I’m not real pleased with, but I’ll let the other two [legislators] talk about that. If the session does end early, it may be a blessing. That’s two weeks less damage we can do.”

Brown believes the session will end early, but said between the tax cut and the new budget, education and other programs will suffer.

“I have nothing against cutting taxes, but I do believe in a sound education system and sound infrastructure,” said Brown. “I debated against the tax cut. We’ve passed several measures in the past seven years. Now, tax cuts aren’t as damaging as the tax credits we handed out to businesses.”

Brown referred to the credits earned by oil and natural gas entities, and pointed out that due to these credits, Chesapeake Oil actually had a negative tax bill, meaning the average taxpayer in Oklahoma paid more to the state than Chesapeake.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” said Brown. “They say we have to make Oklahoma attractive to these businesses; well, the oil and gas are here. The companies are going to be here.”

Brown also said the tax cut, slated to take effect in 2015, merely “kicked the can down the road.”

“We safely passed a cut, because we aren’t going to have to worry about how to pay for it,” said Brown. “We left that to whomever is in office in 2016. It amounts to somewhere between $175 to $200 million, and we have no clue how to pay for it. It’s totally irresponsible.”

Brown said the $7.1 billion budget agreement reached between lawmakers and the governor Thursday would provide new funding for education.

“We funded $74 million in new dollars, with a $17 million supplement to be added later,” said Brown. “Higher education received $33 million, but only $10 million of that goes to operations; the rest is for debt service. We also make sure when we allocate to higher ed that we fund OU and OSU, and the regional universities get what’s left over. The interesting thing, though, is we sure didn’t short ourselves [legislators]. We gave ourselves $1 million in the House last year, and another $1 million this year, plus $5 million for the Legislative Service Bureau, and another $5 million for the finance office.”

Brown said another issue at the fore is the consolidation of public service boards, including combining the assets of the public service pension plans.

“There is no savings in consolidating those boards,” said Brown. “It would essentially put one person in charge of $20 billion in pension funds. They originally claimed the move would save $49 million, which turned out to be about $12 million. The teachers retirement funding system has been on a correctional path lately. Last year, it returned 116 percent. Now, it’s still underfunded, but it is on a path to correction as are several others that have been tweaked in the past two years. Why would you want to change that? We managed to protect it this session, but folks better be ready to protect their pension system next year.”

Garrison agreed with Brown, saying if a new, single board is created to manage the public service boards, it would become nothing more than a political football.


To see the complete version of this article, subscribe to the Daily Press e-edition by following the link below.

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered every day to your home or office.

Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition. It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

Text Only
Local News
  • svw-beagles-MAIN.jpg Going to the dogs

    Hounds at center stage for more than just Red Fern Festival

    Larry Blackman and Titus Blanket have always loved dogs, especially beagles. In their respective roles as president and vice president of the Cherokee County Beagle Club, they’ve turned that love into a passion.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • sanders-jeri.jpg Murder charge against mother of dead boy, 3, dismissed

    A first-degree murder charge has been dropped against a 37-year-old mother accused in the death of her 3-year-old son.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • supersalary.jpg Okla. superintendents paid comparatively well; teachers 46th lowest

    Administrators say they work year-round, have other duties

    As public education in Oklahoma continues to feel the pinch of a shrinking state budget, watchdog groups and district patrons across the state are asking whether superintendents are getting a disproportionate piece of the financial pie.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • Boards keep city, county afloat

    City and county officials rely on a variety of boards to oversee diverse and complex issues, and many of their members work behind the scenes to keep the wheels of government oiled and turning.
    The city of Tahlequah currently has 10 boards and three trust authorities. Cherokee County has two county-specific boards.

    July 31, 2014

  • HPWA contract raises gas to $3.99 a gallon

    The Hulbert Public Works Authority renewed its natural gas contract with Constellation Energy July 29, raising fuel prices to $3.99 per gallon for the next two years.

    July 31, 2014

  • Tourism Council OKs compensation

    The Tahlequah Area Tourism Council held its annual retreat Wednesday, and approved paying former Director Kate Kelly 100 hours of annual leave.

    July 31, 2014

  • rf-poker-run-main.jpg Poker run

    Fundraiser was in the cards for local philanthropic group

    It was perfect weather, with temperatures in the high 80s Saturday, as boaters filled their vessels with friends for a fun afternoon on Lake Tenkiller. A crowd gathered at Cookson Bend Marina, and folks lined up to support a local charity event.
    As fundraisers go, the Beta Sigma Phi Mu Omega Poker Run last Saturday could be considered huge success, as nearly $9,000 was collected.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • bilbrey-anthony.jpg Man arrested for blackmailing woman for sex

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies put a man behind bars Monday night after he allegedly tried to blackmail a woman by threatening to post nude photos of her on the Internet if she did not meet him for sex.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peach_photo_2.jpg Peach crop lean, but fruit still available

    Summer is all about peaches in Porter – especially at Livesay Orchard.
    The Livesay Orchard is still busy a week after Porter’s annual peach festival. The orchard’s crop this year was cut in half from what had previously been expected, according to Kent Livesay, one of the owners of the orchard.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • jackson-jaymee.jpg Tot’s injuries prompt abuse charges for two local residents

    A Tahlequah couple was formally charged Tuesday with child neglect and child abuse after an 18-month-old girl was found with a number of injuries.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos


Do you think "blue laws" related to Sunday alcohol sales in Oklahoma should be relaxed? Choose the option that most closely reflects your opinion.

Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars, and liquor stores should be open.
Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars only; liquor stores should stay closed.
Liquor stores should be open Sundays, but drinks should not be served anywhere on Sundays.
The law should remain as it is now; liquor stores should be closed, and drinks should be served on Sundays according to county option.
No alcohol should be sold or served publicly on Sundays.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN