Editor’s Notebook: Dr. Coburn’s remedy, Lockhart injured, Inman declares disaster, Hickman says budget forthcoming

OKLAHOMA CITY – From an editor’s notebook: Dr. Coburn has a prescription for America’s political crisis, Rep. Lockhart is hurt, state House Democrats have declared current state policy a disaster, and Speaker Hickman says the budget picture will soon be clearer.

Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn will speak Wednesday (April 13) in Oklahoma City concerning his support for an Article V U.S. Constitution Convention, “and action required at the state level to move the issue nationally,” according to a press release sent to CapitolBeatOK and other news organizations. 
The meeting will be at the headquarters of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, 1401 North Lincoln Boulevard, from Noon until 1 p.m.
Dr. Coburn, who retired from the U.S. Senate in 2014, is working with Restore Accountability (www.restoreaccountability.com) a national group focused on bringing “objective, factual information regarding the impact of our national debt and wasteful spending directly to those generations most negative impacted.”

A press release from House Democrats says state Rep. James Lockhart, D-Heavener, was injured during a horseback ride on Saturday. He suffered a concussion, his second. Today (Tuesday, April 12) during a short drive Lockhart said he “got really dizzy. I’m still having coordination issues and my speech is slurred.”
He planned to get a CAT scan at the Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center in Poteau. 
Lockhart runs a cow/calf operation in LoFlore County and was working his calves when he was bucked off his horse. We will update readers on Lockhart’s condition.

State Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City, and his minority caucus have filed House Concurrent Resolution 1019, “related to the state budget and other matters; making findings; declaring disaster” and “calling upon voters for participation in the November General election.” The measure is co-sponsored in the upper chamber by Senate Minority Leader John Sparks, D-Norman. 
Inman, the House Minority leader, assailed Republicans for “a Leadership Disaster.” The resolution says the state’s budget challenges result from tax cuts for the wealthiest of Oklahomans” and an estaimated “$2 billion in tax credits and exemptions to the most well-connected Oklahomans and the lowest gross production taxes of any major oil producing state in the nation.”
Rep. Inman aimed much of a prepared statement circulated this week at spending patterns by majority Republicans that have hurt “vulnerable people” in public schools and nursing homes.
Inman and other Democrats have pressed to roll back the one-quarter of a percent income tax reduction that took effect in January of this year. Concerning the Republican leadership, he said “we don’t believe our friends are willing to admit fault and change course, even in the face of the worst budget our citizens have seen in a generation, and maybe in state history.”
H.C.R. 1019 is a critical listing of decisions made in recent years that Inman and his allies believe led to a “disaster.” Democrats have called upon citizens to come to the Capitol and file for elective office this week, “to bring fresh ideas and a willingness to do what’s right even when it’s not politically popular.”

In related news, Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, told reporters during a discussion in the state Capitol press room late last week that the budget picture from the House majority’s perspective would become clearer this week and next. 
House members were organized several months ago into working groups aiming to find targeted reductions and efficiencies in the budget. 
The state of Oklahoma spends about $24 billion a year from all sources, with about one-third of that coming from federal sources. In the current fiscal year (which ends June 30) state agencies have had to trim several hundred million dollars. For Fiscal Year 2017, which begins July 1, receipts are expected to fall about $1.3 billion short of previously anticipated revenues.
Last week, state Treasurer Ken Miller reported gross receipts to the treasury were the lowest in four years. In his customary press release on state revenues available for appropriation, Miller reported, “Monthly collections from oil and natural gas production taxes have been lower than the same month of the prior year for 15 consecutive months. March gross production collections are more than 40 percent lower than last March.”
After reaching $100 a barrel at the height of the oil and gas boom, prices dropped precipitously over several months, to as low as $26 a barrel. 
Recently, prices have rallied, and were in the $41 a barrel range on Tuesday.