In a rush toward corporate grift befitting any two-bit oligarchy, by the time you read this Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt likely will have signed a tax-dollar giveaway that he proposed to his corporate-first legislative cronies only last Monday.
It was his proposal; it was pushed through both houses. The signing is only a formality. Sean Murphy of the Associated Press reported last week that Stitt wanted, “a massive package of financial incentives, including tapping into the state’s reserve funds, to help lure an unnamed company to the state.”
Murphy added that Stitt claimed, “he was prohibited by a non-disclosure agreement from naming the company or outlining the total cost of the package.”
Putting tax dollars into private coffers is one of the hallmarks of Republican economic policy.
Jordan Dafnis of KWTV reported “The LEAD Act would take close to $700 million in taxpayer dollars and incentivize large corporations, like Canoo and Panasonic, to come to Oklahoma.”
I’m sure GOPQ spin-doctors are pronouncing this bit of corporate socialism “leed,” but it is yet another lead weight sinking significant investments in Oklahoma’s schools or infrastructure.
Dafnis explains, “While top lawmakers said they legally can’t talk about where the money would be going, others said it’s no secret that those are the two companies.”
With the incentives (kickbacks) based on a company’s actual investment, this amounts to a blank check of taxpayer money to businesses (those we guess at and any to come). How Republican can you get?
Except, as with the governor’s defeated voucher bill to funnel public funds into private schools, there are a few fiscally responsible Republicans still afoot. Dafnis included the remark Sen. Shane Jett offered during the debate where nothing was in doubt:
“We don’t represent corporations; we don’t represent businesses; we represent the mom and pops that own those businesses. And those mom and pops who own those businesses in Shawnee, Oklahoma are struggling. They’re looking to us to be good stewards of their money and we’re taking their money and giving it to a corporation.”
More rural Republicans need to realize that government largesse to private companies will never benefit them. Feel trickled down on yet?
Ironically, this corporate socialism and privatization got dubbed neo-liberalism for some reason. There’s certainly nothing new (neo) about the rich manipulating the system to their own benefit. There’s even less liberalism in state-funded oligarchies.
And, speaking of irony, while the corporate grift bill was being pushed through post haste, HB 3484 was also sent to the governor’s desk. KFOR’s K. Querry-Thompson explained last week: “The Oklahoma State Senate has unanimously approved a bill that would provide more transparency of state service contracts.”
The account cites Sen. Bill Coleman (R-Ponca City) as saying “The Legislature has worked hard in recent years trying to ensure that state contracts are awarded to Oklahoma companies as much as possible.” Our state tax dollars need to be used to support Oklahoma businesses and jobs, not go to out-of-state entities. I’m proud of this bill and applaud Rep. Martinez for bringing this forward and for the Legislature’s overwhelming support.”
And the governor asking for a blank check while withholding relevant information told a press conference: “I want to shine a light on any kind of corruption or anything that’s going on in state government.”
Of course we can’t expect much awareness of irony (or hypocrisy) in a state led by a goobernor who nominated Dustin Hilliary for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education even though Hilliary failed to earn a college degree. Any teacher in the state is better qualified, is more familiar with all facets collegiate considerations than a college dropout.
Give the Republicans enough time and they will dumb down succeeding generations to their level of arrogant ignorance.
But, trust them. Give a blank check to the guy whose Gateway Mortgage made Business Insider’s Top 15 Shadiest Mortgage Lenders in 2009 and had its license revoked in Illinois.
Trust him – to divert funds that could upgrade the state’s education situation into the pockets of the already-rich.
(Duncan resident Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)