Okie Funk 2012 Year In Review, Part Two

Image of Mary Fallin

(I’m running excerpts from 2012 posts on Okie Funk this holiday week. I thank you for following this blog, and I wish you the best for 2013.—Kurt Hochenauer)

The decline in state tax revenues last month and the continued decline in gross production taxes on natural gas will make any income tax cut this legislative session especially irresponsible and unconscionable.

If Republicans proceed with a tax cut, it would represent a complete capitulation to “starve the beast” ideology, which advocates widespread and deep tax cuts, rather than responsible policy, to cut government spending.

Gov. Mary Fallin, pictured right, and other Republicans should drop their tax cut proposals and work to generate revenues for state agencies and educational institutions, which have faced large budget cuts since the 2008 economic downturn. The recent tax-cut debate here has been worth it for some political and philosophical reasons, but the timing is exactly wrong for a cut of any kind. Obviously, the issue is not going away as long as conservatives dominate the legislature.

At a recent forum on the issue hosted by the Oklahoma Policy Institute, Alexander Holmes, a University of Oklahoma economist and a former state finance director, called the math behind some of the proposed cuts “insane.”

Timing For Tax Cut Exactly Wrong, April 10, 2012

Media Matters recently published a scathing critique of The Oklahoman under the new ownership of Philip Anschutz.

The article’s main point is that the newspaper distorts facts about the natural gas drilling method hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and notes its Colorado billionaire owner is involved in the gas and oil industry. The newspaper, according to the article, also supports the controversial drilling method on its editorial page.

Here’s how the article begins:

The Oklahoman’s straight news coverage of the controversial natural gas extraction process of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") has been slanted in favor of the process under the ownership of energy tycoon Philip Anschutz, who acquired the paper in September 2011. The paper's opinion page has been one-sided -- devoid of voices warning readers about the potential health risks and environmental dangers of loosely regulated fracking activities.

All this is true, of course, and the article is worth reading, but as someone that has critiqued the newspaper for years now I can attest that the newspaper supported fracking on its editorial page under the Gaylord family ownership and has been a leading cheerleader in its new columns for the oil and gas industry for decades.

I mean this is a newspaper that has endorsed U.S. Sen. Inhofe, a toady to the oil and gas industry, and someone who leads the charge against basic climate-change science. In fact, I think it’s fair to say The Oklahoman long ago embraced fracking, which many believe damages the environment and might even be the cause of earthquakes.
So, in a sense, the article doesn’t break any new ground so much as it clarifies and organizes some recent information about the newspaper’s continuing anti-environment bias.

Newspaper, Chesapeake Under Fire, May 3, 2012

I’ve find it somewhat appropriate that the effects of global warming are becoming obvious in Oklahoma, a state that has repeatedly elected a U.S. Senator who claims climate-change science is a vast, conspiratorial hoax.

The temperatures keep going up here, the state is even in the national spotlight about it and U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s fight against science and rationality seems punier than ever.
Recently, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), determined through a recalculation that Oklahoma, not Texas, actually had the hottest summer ever recorded last year with an average temperature of 86.9 degrees. The month of July, 2011 was the hottest month ever recorded at 89.3 degrees.
Previously, the hottest summer on record was in 1934 in Oklahoma as well.

An excellent Huffington Post article on the new data pointed out the longstanding rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma doesn’t extend to scorching temperatures and drought.
Meanwhile, though we’ve had some cooling rains in recent days, the month of May in Oklahoma was the fifth warmest on record with an average temperature at 72.2 degrees, according to Oklahoma Mesonet, which noted the “recent warmth is a continuation of what the state has experienced since early 2010.”

The May temperatures, as most Oklahomans know, followed a mild, warm winter, the 11th warmest in history here, according to Mesonet.

Oklahoma Breaks Hottest Record, June 3, 2012