State Senator George Young, D-Oklahoma City, issued the following statement in response to the Fiscal Year 2022 budget and the priorities that lie within it.
“As we approach the end of the First Session of the 58th Oklahoma State Legislature, I am encouraged by the hustle and bustle of creating a budget. In my experience, it has been that the budget process is mostly a secretive, on-going deliberation between less than 10 privileged individuals. As a member of the Senate, I have no hand in developing the budget, I only have the ability to complain or comment about what is presented for me to approve or disapprove.
“Being in the minority party almost eliminates my ability to make any substantial addition or change to the budget. I submitted a request early on to the appropriations chair when I saw that my piece of legislation to appropriate $625,000 for what could be described as ‘start-up’ costs for the Clara Luper Civil Rights Center (CLCRC) would not be heard. The City of Oklahoma City has already provided MAPS funding to build and administer the CLCRC by a one-cent sales tax. The request in my bill was to help the organizing board have funding to start the work of fundraising, planning, and hiring personnel to hit the ground running.
“My bill was not heard, and there was no line item in the budget to satisfy this request. By all accounts, the CLCRC is going to be a major tourist attraction, not only for Oklahoma City, but also the state. Strangely enough, there were only two items of interest in the budget that caught my attention that may be considered an initiative that positively impacts my constituents – a line item to pay grant writers for Black towns, and a line item for field trips to Greenwood in Tulsa and the CLCRC.
“The budget also contained line items to lower the corporate tax and reduce the individual income tax, which was on prominent display in the proposed budget that was introduced to the Democratic caucus. Under the proposed budget, millions of dollars will also become available to charter and private schools, at the devastating loss of those same millions to traditional public schools.
“I am voting ‘no’ on the budget, just as I voted ‘no’ on the redistricting plan for the Senate and House. Neither of these items show any attempt to take into consideration the concerns of the improvement of conditions for my constituents or district.
“Reinstating the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has also been a piece of legislation I have presented that was never heard but has made its way into the budget proposal. I am praying the Senate will reinstate the EITC, which would vastly and positively impact Senate District 31, but it has yet to be seen as a solid item in the budget.”