And This isn’t the First Time These Arguments Have Been Made….
Last week the Oklahoman Editorial Board ran a story bemoaning the fact that the American Indian Cultural Center was dead in the water. Central to the story was the premises that the Legislature “offloaded” the white elephant to Oklahoma City.
Hints that OKC officials might be back at the Capitol in February asking for another bite at the apple were in the editorial, asking if a “Plan B” might not be considered.
And it seems that Mayor Cornett and City Manager Jim Couch now believe there are a number “serious” flaws in the business model for the Cultural Center. Ya think?
The costs of construction was said to higher than estimated, and the Cultural Center has a cost per square foot greater than the Devon Tower, but the cost of daily operation is projected to exceed income by one point five to two point five million dollars per year. And this if course is exactly what we have been saying since 2010.
The state gave the City a chance to develop nearly three fourths of the property to generate the cash needed to subsidize the boondoggle but the City officials say that generating that kind of development is no easy task. Then they point out things that we weren’t aware of but surely any halfway competent construction manager would have pointed these things out long ago like the multitude of utility lines cris-crossing the property, the drainage issues, the fact that a river splits the property into two parts, the fact that the Cultural Center itself splits the property in two, and that there are no internet access points for easy egress.
Cornett and Couch told the Oklahoman that it would take decades before the development caught up with the Cultural Center and that the private support pledged so far, the vaunted 40 million dollars, might not be there due to the downturn in the energy sector. They believe that some of the cash might materialize IF they develop a solid business plan for the complex but blame state restrictions on their reluctance to back such a plan.
The state of course has sunk around $90,000,000 into the money pit so far and they are paying around $5,000,000 per year in bond interest and principle so the state expects half of all revenue beyond $7,000,000 per year would be withheld to pay off the latest $25,000,000 bond investment made by the state. Yet nothing is said about the remaining $65,000,000 already sunk into project. Worse, as the bonds will run for 30 years, the land is locked down for other uses unless the state pays off the entire $90,000,000 debt as the property is held as collateral.
The article covers the loss of enthusiasm by the city fathers for the Cultural Center, what was once billed as an economic boom to the city is now quietly being prepared for mothballs. The needed five votes might not be there to pursue the Cultural Center project accourding to Cornett.
Of course all of these arguments and many more were made long ago and dismissed by the RINO legislators that were so anxious to pass the legislation funding the Cultural Center. Back then we were called irresponsible or it was claimed that we were impeding progress. Now it seems that we were spot on that the Cultural Center was never economically viable, had no access without spending millions more on infrastructure, and that the surrounding development would never be able to cover the operating losses on the Cultural Center.
Trump, the Muslim Problem, Operation Wetback, and Jimmy Carter
Donald Trump ignited a fire storm with his comments on stopping Muslim immigration until the country can catch up on its ability to investigate potential refugees and immigrants. It didn’t take long for an internet blogger to research who else might have dealt with a similar situation in the past. Turns out that Democratic president Jimmy Carter had dealt with the hostage crisis in the 70’s in part by calling tens of thousands of Iranian students into Immigration offices for background checks and threat assessments, with around 10,000 Iranian students being deported. Carter also stopped new visas and refused to re issue expiring visas, effectively barring Iranians from entering the U.S..
Then as now the left wing organizations brought up the 1st Amendment and after the case bounced through the court, appellate court, and was refused further review by the Supreme Court the deportations.
Jews, Christians, and other religious minorities were being persecuted in Iran so exemptions were made, effectively locking out on the Muslims from Iran.
The blog writer pointed out that Muslims don’t have national identify first, preferring to define themselves as members of Sunni or Shiite Muslims and thus see the terror war as between U.S. and the Muslim ideology.
Like Carter the leaders of this country ought to be worried about hidden terror cells or radicalized Muslims planning and executing more acts of terror and less about who we might offend. No one has a right to emigrate to the U.S., it is a privilege that should be offered to the best and brightest, people that would make the U.S. a better place for the existing citizens.
.Then there was the 1954 Eisenhower program called Operation Wetback that removed thousand of illegal aliens with state and local police departments working in concert with the Border Patrol. As many as 1.3 million Mexicans were deported, or 2.1 million depending on the source used but the amazing thing was that it was over and completed in a few months.
The illegal aliens, AKA wetbacks had come over the decades prior to the Great Depresssion and more were brought in using the Bracero program in the early 40’s which offered Mexicans a chance to come work for low wages, so low that too many of the workers just ran away and found higher paying jobs. Mexico then ended the Bracero program but as happens now the coyotes smuggled workers across the border right into low wage jobs picking fruit or vegetables. The summer of 1954 the INS and the Border Patrol partnered with state and local police departments and started searching out and arresting Hispanics The total number of men involved was said to be only 700 agents but fear spread and illegal Hispanics started deporting themselves rather than wait for the INS to show up at the door.
The big farmers complained bitterly of course as they had to pay market program wages to attract workers and had to treat the workers better. The program continued on into the fall of 1954. Only 1.3 million were forcibly deported and the rest self deported. This was fine with Mexico who had provided the initial pressure to end illegal immigration into the U.S.! Mexico wanted the workers for their own industrial use. As U.S. employers could pay better wages the Mexican farmers had crops rotting in the field because there were no workers to pick the crops.
Mexico relented a bit during WWII and the bracero program was born. Mexico asked that in return for allowing limited legal immigration the U.S. would return any illegal aliens and patrol the border to prevent illegal immigration. Yet the bracero program cost more per worker than simply hiring illegal aliens so the flood of illegal aliens didn’t appreciably slow.
Once caught the illegal was transported by ship or land to Mexico and dumped across the border. Of course they would try to come right back in until the Border Patrol decided to shave the heads of the ones they repatriated.
Do you want another Tax Hike or a More Efficient Government?
By the Watchman
While the Oklahoma Supreme Court debates the legalities of Mr. Boren’s initiative to have a one cent sales tax to fund education, we must and will repeatedly ask is it really necessary. In order to make an informed decision one has to look at all the facts. We did and the first item of interest was this The Okie » Doerflinger: State Must Face $900M Shortfall ‘Head On with All Hands on Deck’
. Based on this report alone, it would seem to validate the need for a one cent tax increase to fund public education. Looks can be deceiving though.
Some of the tax credits sought by the members of our legislature have bordered on the bizarre to downright protectionism of some of their constituents. All of these bills were from last year and gentleman you know who you are and that we will be watching you.
HB 1078 Prohibit manufactured home manufacturer from selling directly to the public.
HB 1659 gutted the bonus program that encouraged teachers to pursue the educational leadership program
SB 1083 limits claims against LLC’s
SB 900 Prioritizing family planning services for grants and tax money. That’s their way of saying fund Planned Parenthood.
The list goes on and on. Is any of this germane to closing the budget gap this year or in any year? The answer is simply Yes. By closing some of these tax loopholes that budget deficit will begin to close. This is just the tip of the iceberg too.
There is a part of the Oklahoma State Constitution that every elected official seems to be either unaware of or chooses to ignore. That is Article 10.
Revenue And Taxation. One particular section of Article ten is repeatedly ignored by everyone from the Governor through the newest legislator. It can be read below.
Qualifying manufacturing concern - Ad valorem tax exemption.
A. For the purpose of inducing any manufacturing concern to locate or expand manufacturing facilities within any county of this state, a qualifying manufacturing concern shall be exempt from the levy of any ad valorem taxes upon new, expanded or acquired manufacturing facilities for a period of five (5) years.
By ignoring this one simple and short rule in our State Constitution, we are being bilked out of millions in tax dollars every year. Tax dollars that could be used to give teachers a pay raise, help in the repair of roads and bridges and many other things. In short, their ignorance is coming out of your pocket.
The next item of interest we found was this s3.documentcloud.org/documents/279161/tax-credit-task-force-final-report.pdf
. This is an article that actually tells companies and CPA’s where to look for tax credits. It would appear that cheating the civilians out of their hard earned pay has become big business, but then we knew that when the legislature gave the Governor her slush fund so she could pick winners and losers. How well did it work for American Airlines there Governor?
The next article we found both interesting and disturbing Protecting Incentive Programs for Economic Development
. This article actually shows them bragging about defeating a bill that would put an end date to this practice. Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking the Chamber of Commerce is the working person’s friend. They are the friend of the business people only.
The next article of interest we found was this Questions Surround State Subsidies Aimed at Saving Jobs | Oklahoma Watch
. What this report entails covers the explosion in the Quality Jobs Program to a point where if a “change in control” occurred and the Department of Commerce determined that jobs were “likely to leave the state” because of new ownership. This amounts to nothing more than corporations blackmailing state governments so that they can raise their own bottom line at the expense of the citizens of the state.
The next article of interest we found was this Companies That Received Existing-Jobs Subsidies | Oklahoma Watch
. This shows a partial list of companies that are receiving tax credits in Oklahoma as of this date. It indicates in this very short list one firm that is still receiving tax credits a full year after they should have ended. It also shows two additional companies that’s tax credits are due to end in January of 2016. Those three firms alone would account for fourteen million five hundred and seventy seven dollars and thirty seven cents ($14,577.37). Folks that is just scraping the top of the barrel. We have submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the Commerce Department for a full list of the participants in this program. There is a link in this article that will lead you to an article on how new subsidies are started.
The next document of interest we found was this s3.documentcloud.org/documents/279161/tax-credit-task-force-final-report.pdf
. This is a report put out by Senator Mazzei and Representative Dank covering Tax Credits and Economic Incentives. The Task Force met ten times and each meeting was recorded. You can find those recordings on www.okhouse.gov
. It should be noted that the advice of the Attorney General was sought and received during these meetings. AG Opinion 2010-16 established a three part test for determining whether a tax credit was constitutional or not.
A. In part the Tax Credit must serve a public purpose
B. The Tax Credit must provide adequate consideration to the Citizens of Oklahoma for the foregone tax revenue
C. The Tax Credit must have adequate safeguards and controls.
Most of the tax credits in the State of Oklahoma are sorely lacking in all three.
The next item of interest we found was this In Enid, In Enid, 80-Year-Old Business Wins Payments for Keeping Jobs | Oklahoma Watch
. Now there aren’t that many places in this country that build oil rigs. We fail to understand why an eighty year old company received seven hundred eighty seven thousand five hundred eighty seven dollar tax breaks just because of a name change. Where does this serve the public purpose? Where is the adequate consideration to the Citizens of Oklahoma? None that we can see.
As you can see there are many loopholes in the tax credit program. These loopholes include inadequate oversite and hints of side deals with legislators. In the next edition we’ll make a connection between this tax stealing apparatus and the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce. What we need our readers to do is contact their legislators and inform them to stop playing to the special interest and start caring for the Citizens of Oklahoma. It’s high time that the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce stop running our state.