AFR's Steve Thompson Doubts Special Session to Make Much Progress Fixing Budget, Other IssuesFri, 15 Dec 2017 11:08:05 CST
American Farmers & Ranchers hosted their second annual Rural to Urban Outreach Reception in conjunction with the Tulsa Farm Show again this year, just this past week. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn had the chance to catch up with AFR's Director of Legislative Affairs Steve Thompson to review the political debates of this past year in the state and what issues he is monitoring going into 2018. You can listen to their complete conversation, by clicking or tapping the LISTEB BAR below at the bottom of the page.
Perhaps, one of the most hot-button issues of today in Oklahoma politics, is the upcoming special session, which is scheduled to convene Monday, December 18th at the behest of Gov. Mary Fallin. Thompson reports that Gov. Fallin, unhappy with some of the proposed cuts by the legislature in their efforts to fix the lingering budget crisis in the state, hopes lawmakers will give it another try in this second special session for the year. Thompson, though, is doubtful that much progress will be made.
"The first special session lasted two full months and accomplished very little," Thompson said. "We'll be there to see where they go but right now there's just very little optimism in that building and we're just not sure what if anything they'll do before the end of the year."
It is Thompson's belief that in reality, the larger issues at hand will in fact probably not be seriously discussed until the regular session, scheduled for February.
"History has shown that those big decisions are not going to be solved in an emergency session," he said. "I don't think that this is the time of year to be dealing with that. We need to make sure the trains run on time and everybody gets their paycheck and all the programs keep rolling. But, things are going to have to be addressed in February and March and some hard decisions will have to be made there that can't be put off any longer."
Looking back at this year, Thompson joins legislators and other organizations' in frustration with the lack of progress made in 2017. He remains hopeful, though, that Oklahoma's legislature will reconvene in 2018 with a rejuvenated determination to tackle the big issues facing our rural communities, such as rural healthcare expansion and the consolidation of public school system - an issue opposed by AFR.
"This has been without question in my 18 years at the Capital, the most historic legislative session that we have ever had, with which very little happened," he said. "Some of the discussions and debate over the budget are truly unprecedented, but we're at a place in our politics in Oklahoma where you can't seem to get any compromise.
"We're kind of stuck in high-center and we need somebody to come along with a tractor and chain and pull us out of the ditch. And that's what we're looking for in 2018."
Listen to Thompson and Horn discuss the upcoming special session in more detail, and other issues facing Oklahoma's agricultural community, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below.
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