Farm Bureau's John Collison Prepares for a Frank Discussion with Members Regarding State PoliticsWed, 12 Jul 2017 12:26:05 CDT
With the Oklahoma Legislative Session over and the Oklahoma Farm Bureau Area Conferences coming up, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, invited OFB’s John Collison, vice president of public policy and corporate communications, in studio this week to chat about his reflections of this year’s session at the state capitol and his thoughts looking forward as he and the OFB staff prepare to meet with members this August. You can listen to that full conversation, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of this story.
“We have a lot of problems in the state right now,” Collison said bluntly. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the problem at the capitol today is - we don’t really have any leadership. We don’t have any vision of where we’re trying to go as a state.”
Collison cites his own observations from the session, that property tax is being looked at as being the No. 1 source of new revenue, while schools are drastically underfunded - signs, he says, that point to the fact that things in the state are not getting any better.
“We have this new paradigm shift where cities, municipalities, want to come in and take property tax and start funding fire and police and I know what happens next,” he said. “We start funding salaries at schools and it just snowballs from there.”
The fight is coming, says Collison. It started this year and he says it will return next year. It is an issue he feels strongly about and believes it important to express his concerns to the OFB membership during the organization’s upcoming area conferences, to be held throughout the month of August. He says if Oklahoma Farm Bureau must become the voice of reason on this issue, it is prepared to do so.
“We’re going to go out and have a frank discussion with our membership and they need to see, we have to be the voice when it comes to rural education, rural property, rural everything,” he insists. “I encourage all our members to come. This is a grassroots organization. We need to hear from you.”
The upcoming conferences give Oklahoma Farm Bureau members the chance to find out what policy issues are on the horizon, and allows them time to mull over their thoughts and positions on key issues ahead of their annual convention, where the important decisions will be made. The feedback from members on these issues ultimately influence the OFB’s policy book, written ahead of each session as a guide to the organization’s stance on proposed policy.
Aside from property tax and the state budget, other issues likely to come up at these meetings will include rural health and education, the development of Oklahoma’s water resources and the influence being made federally by President Donald Trump and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Collison will join Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays for his weekly In the Field segment on KWTV News9 in the Oklahoma City area on Saturday morning at 6:40 a.m.
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