The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

13 September 2005

Today's ballot

I no longer live in Senate District 48, so I don't have any particular reason to back anyone in the special election to replace Angela Monson, who is being term-limited out of her seat after the standard twelve years.

Why a special election? Because Monson will not be allowed to complete her full term. I explained this a couple of years ago:

Oklahoma's term-limits law, enacted as State Question 632 in 1990, allows a legislator a maximum of twelve years, whether in the state House, the state Senate, or both. The law specified that legislators serving as of January 1991 would be allowed to complete their current term before their 12-year clock would be started.

Which means that individuals who were serving in the subsequent legislature — 1993-94 — are now about to be squeezed out, and the first squeezee looks like Senator Angela Z. Monson, Oklahoma City Democrat, who began her career in the Senate in 1993 but who previously served one term in the House. (Disclosure: I used to live in Monson's district, and voted for her twice. Not in the same election.) The law says that Monson's clock starts with the beginning of her Senate service, which means that although she was elected to a full four-year term in 2002, she will have to leave the Senate in 2005.

On State Question 723, I have to go with my gut. I don't question the need to raise some bucks to fix these freaking roads, which seem to have deteriorated markedly in the last 48 hours, but 723 doesn't do anything to address one underlying issue: what causes roads to become substandard, and how properly to attribute the costs of maintenance and repair. Therefore I choose to wait for a more complete approach to the problem. One could argue that the perfect is the enemy of the good, and indeed it is, but 723, a temporary patch with a permanent tax increase, hardly qualifies as the "good".

Posted at 7:46 AM to Soonerland

I agree with your take on SQ 723. A fuel tax increase dedicated to highway maintenance is in order, but it only makes sense we get our government spending policies in order first.

Posted by: MikeH at 8:22 AM on 13 September 2005

This argument that - since heavy trucks cause the most damage, so they should bear the brunt of any fuel tax, and therefore SQ 723 is bad - is flawed.

Heavy trucking does cause more damage than car traffic. By a lot (9000:1). But the trucking industry does not operate in a vacuum. They are not out there driving around for their own good and personal pleasure. Most trucks are out there delivering the goods that we consume and/or the goods we manufacture.

We could put 100% of the fuel tax on diesel and eliminate the tax on gas, but the end consumer still would pay for it - through higher delivery fees which, in turn, would be added to the cost of products.

The little guy always pays for it, there are just many different combinations in how to do it.

The bottom line is we need to spend more money on roads.

Posted by: sandee at 10:06 AM on 13 September 2005

I just went and voted "no"

Posted by: ms7168 at 1:16 PM on 13 September 2005

It's certainly true that the additional costs will be passed on to consumers, but the additional costs are always passed on to consumers, which means that it's not much of a selling point on either side of the issue.

Posted by: CGHill at 1:20 PM on 13 September 2005

I must disagree with MikeH's comment:

it only makes sense we get our government spending policies in order first

The fact that we can't get the legislature to get this policy in order is what has forced the vote on SQ 723 in the first place. Like strengthening an old levee, road and bridge repair is always something they can push off until next year, as they've done for over a decade. We don't necessarily want to dump our legislators over this single issue, so the normal election process isn't fixing it.

Everyone agrees the roads and bridges need to be fixed, but no one's proposing any other way to pay for it, other than clapping harder and hoping the legislature starts doing its job here. I have no evidence that's going to happen, sadly.

And as for a permanent tax increase: once the problem is fixed and we can see we don't need such a revenue earmark, I'm perfectly happy to vote for SQ 995 or whatever to repeal it. Until then, someone has to stand up and demand this stuff gets fixed now.

Posted by: Matt at 1:20 PM on 13 September 2005