Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 9, 2007

Lawmakers to focus on budget proposals

The term “tax cut” is one that usually brings smiles to taxpayers’ faces. But as area lawmakers pointed out Friday morning, tax cuts always result in cuts in other areas as well.

“Tax cuts are popular in Oklahoma City, but there are holes in education, there are holes in corrections, and there are holes in health care,” said State Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah.

“We can’t even fill these holes – we don’t need another tax cut yet. I’m ready to pull our tax cuts off the table and pay our bills.”

Brown, along with Rep. John Auffet, D-Stilwell, and Sen. Jim Wilson-Tahlequah attended the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Focus, hosted by Tahlequah Public Schools at the high school media center.

According to Wilson, legislators will soon begin hashing out a new budget proposal after Gov. Brad Henry’s veto last week of the legislature’s initial budget.

“We’re going to let tempers settle down and start on it again Monday,” said Wilson.

Brown said he voted to uphold the veto, which could have been overridden by the House, because the budget didn’t include funding for several projects he feels are important, like teacher retirements.

Henry vetoed the bill Wednesday because of what he called a “flawed process” used by House and Senate leaders, without input from either his office or House Democrats.

Wilson said funding for state agencies this year won’t be any higher than it was last year, but that lawmakers had managed to make some progress in a couple of areas.

Teacher pay was increased, but only for teachers being paid the minimum required by state law. Teachers already making more than that won’t be affected.

Also, the income requirements of families receiving free health care for children were adjusted, so that – as Wilson put it – “virtually every child in Oklahoma” will be able to meet the new guidelines.

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