S.Q. 744 ‘most dangerous’ policy proposal, Treasurer Meacham says

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 27-Sep-2010

Oklahoma state Treasurer Scott Meacham sharply criticized State Question 744, the ballot initiative backed by the state’s largest labor union,in an interview today (Monday, September 27) with CapitolBeatOK.

Meacham said, “I think this is the most dangerous potential fiscal policy that we’ve seen in this state, to date.” He said it was in his view “absolutely the most ill-conceived fiscal policy” brought before state voters.

The treasurer, a Democrat who is not seeking reelection, said S.Q. 744 “would be devastating to the state’s ability to finance public safety, mental health programs, health care programs and every other area of government other than K-12 education.”

Meacham continued, “I think this is a very bad idea from a policy standpoint. We in Oklahoma are at the tail end of a true recession. While Oklahoma has weathered the storm and is looking at a slow and positive recovery, we likely face additional budget cuts in the near future. This proposal, if passed, would assure yet another round of cuts during or at the end of its three years of implementation.”

Meacham said “the most conservative numbers” of ballot proposition’s impact would require that all functions of state government other than K-12 education would face “just under $1 billion” in budget cuts if the measure prevails in the November election. “No matter whose analysis you accept, we’re talking serious money,” Meacham said.

Meacham says that regardless of the analysis applied to the fiscal impact of S.Q. 744, its passage would have significant and negative effects. 

He termed “disingenuous” the argument of advocates that growth revenue would take care of the mandate to increase K-12 funding to equal the regional average. “The only way to reach their number is to assume we will equal the growth rate of the three best years in state history,” he added.

Meacham emphasized, “I’m absolutely for funding public education and improving support for K-12 education, something I’ve demonstrated throughout the past eight years. This measure, however, is irresponsible.”

Meacham stressed, “I am looking at State Question 744 very pragmatically. It is simply a very bad idea.”