Recent legislative efforts for new taxation, coupled with the expansion of the Legislature’s own appropriated budget, remind me of a presentation I gave several years ago to a local civic group. As a recently elected office holder, I was excited about my new role as part of a transformative effort to make government less expensive and burdensome. In that presentation I spoke about taking on the status quo and bringing about reform on behalf of Oklahoma taxpayers.
After the presentation, I took questions from the audience. I can still recall a question from another recently appointed official who shared my ideals for reform. But he had a concern: “How can we tell when we have become just like ‘them’?” he asked.
In retrospect, I realize the importance of his question. I have observed the effects of power and seen how it can change good people into politicians. A new person takes office with a real desire to restore the balance of power to the taxpayer — only to transition over time into someone who falls prey to the status quo. He gives up on the hard work of spending taxpayer dollars wisely and instead starts to lobby for more taxpayers dollars. It is much easier to complain about not having enough money than to carefully manage what he already has.
It isn’t always easy to know if your elected official has devolved from a reformer to yet another cog in the big government machine, but it happens frequently.
Worse, you may have no idea that you might be currently supporting a status quo politician because you remember him/her as well intentioned with fresh ideas.
Here’s an indicator: an elected official who tries to get more of your money while increasing his own budget has become “just like them”.
Whether he realizes it or not, an elected official waves the white flag of surrender when he stops attempting to trim his own budget and instead asks to raise your taxes. Americans are already heavily taxed at every level of government. Federal, state and local government taxes, fees, fines, overpriced services, and associated costs already consume much of your income.
When the need for more funding faces government officials, all too often established politicians choose the easier task of launching a massive public relations campaign to convince people to pay more money, rather than fighting the tougher battle of lowering their own budgets.
Over the course of the last two weeks, the Legislature has approved millions of fee and quasi-tax increases. The Legislature also increased its own ongoing appropriations level. At a time when the Legislature is raiding the pockets of the taxpayer, it’s so very wrong for them to fail to become more efficient within their own budget.
There were multiple reasons for why I had to vote “No!” on the proposed state budget, but this was perhaps the first and foremost of them.
As a taxpayer, I want my elected officials to do their job and do it well, without coming to me and asking for more money.
I feel like, that when my elected officials ask for more taxes and fees, while also increasing their own budget — they have become “just like them.”
Thank you for reading this article. Your interest and input are much appreciated. Please do not hesitate to email Jason.Murphey@hd31.org with your thoughts and suggestions.