The Blog for Oklahoma Forum
Oklahoma's weekly, statewide discussion program, Oklahoma Forum, provides civil, meaningful discussion of news and issues that impact citizens statewide. Hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist Dick Pryor and produced by Emmy Award-winner Mickie Smith, Oklahoma Forum is more than sound bites and spin. It is purpose-driven television - seeking answers, providing insight – about life in Oklahoma and its people.
Written by Dick Pryor on Wednesday February 29, 2012
January 22, 2012
When NPR Political Junkie Ken Rudin made a special trip to Oklahoma for a meeting with the StateImpact Oklahoma team, we jumped at the chance to do an interview. I'm always up for some good political talk and that goes double for Ken. After all, this is the guy makes his living covering politics and even has it as his hobby. He owns one of the most extensive collections of campaign buttons in the country – now totaling more than 70,000. I should have asked him where he stores them. Oh well.
We did talk about national politics and the Republican presidential primary race, in particular. Our interview occurred on one of the biggest days of this political season. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich was surging toward victory in South Carolina (the vote came two days later) and Texas Governor Rick Perry had just thrown in the towel by suspending his campaign. We had heard earlier in the day that Rick Santorum was the likely winner in the Iowa caucuses, edging Mitt Romney by 34 votes. Good news for Santorum, but it didn't come in time for him to capitalize on the victory and gain a bump in the polls.
Ken shared his thoughts on the ultimate outcome of the presidential election in November (check back on November 7th to see how he did), the mood of the electorate and historical perspective on this year's campaigns.
Until next time,
Dick PryorAdd a comment
Written by Dick Pryor on Thursday January 12, 2012
January 15, 2012
Although nobody asked my opinion on the matter, had I been selecting an "Oklahoman of the Year" for 2011, it would have been U.S. Senator Tom Coburn. Dr. Coburn was everywhere, it seems, whenever discussions moved to the federal budget deficit and gridlock in Washington. He was one of the leading "go-to" guys on news programs and political talk shows, and as a member of the so-called "Gang of Six," his opinion carried special weight.
This week on Oklahoma Forum, Dr. Coburn is our only guest for the entire program, and we touch on the budget, the deficit, military spending, the mess that is Washington, D.C., and what he considers to be a major, new constitutional crisis, the recess appointment of Richard Cordray to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Senator Coburn maintains his friendship with President Obama, although he told me he disagrees with his former Senate colleague about 99% of the time. His, however, very concerned about the legitimacy of the Cordray appointment. So, be sure to watch as I talk to Senator Tom Coburn, Sunday at 12:30 pm.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time,
DickAdd a comment
Written by Dick Pryor on Tuesday January 10, 2012
Now that the year 2011 has come and gone (and hopefully you completed your tax planning for the year), it's just about time to start thinking about getting our taxes in order for 2012. And with the New Year comes some changes and proposed changes in the tax code and tax policy. So, we launch 2012 on Oklahoma Forum with a discussion of just that with our guests: Mickey Hepner, Dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Oklahoma; David Greenwell, CPA with Cole & Reed, P.C. in Oklahoma City; and Micah Steelman, CPA with Peters & Chandler P.C. in Oklahoma City.
There are a few changes to be aware of as you begin your tax preparation. Among them:
- The non-business energy property tax credit has been reduced from 30% to 10%
- Changes have been made in the reporting for Roth IRA's
- The alternative minimum tax exemption has increased
- Mileage rates increased last year for the first six months to $0.51 per mile and in the second six-month period it increased to $0.55 per mile.
- There has been a change in the self-employed health insurance deduction.
Also, it is worthwhile to know that the date for filing income taxes is not April 15 this year, but April 17. Obviously, it is a good idea to talk about the various changes with your tax preparer.
Our discussion centered not so much on what is new this year, but what might happen during the course of 2012. Chief among those is the possible further reduction in the state income tax rate (currently at 5.25%) and the possibility that the state income tax could be completely phased-out over time. One legislative task force, in fact, has made that recommendation, and has also recommended changes or repeal of more than three dozen tax credits and incentives.
Our guest, Mickey Hepner, was one of the economists who testified before the task force, and he makes a forceful argument that this is not the time to cut the state income tax rate. There is momentum, however, to do that. If the income tax is cut, the task force believes that the revenue lost will be made up through the elimination of tax credits. David Greenwell crunched those numbers to determine the overall effect of the cuts and he came to some interesting conclusions. His broad finding is that even if the state income tax is cut, the repeal of various tax credits will result in a net increase in taxes for all but the wealthiest taxpayers. A family of four making about $50,000 per year, for instance, would pay an additional $100 per year in taxes, according to Greenwell.
So, it's an enlightening discussion about one of those topics many people would rather avoid, but which will be a big story in the election year of 2012.
Thanks for watching.
Until next time,
Add a comment
Written by Dick Pryor on Thursday December 15, 2011
December 11, 2011
We've probably all heard it, or said it: "These kids! What's the world coming to?" Previous generations questioning succeeding generations is likely as old as time. It's always something that sets off the dismay of elders – nothing new there. What is new is the way the Millennial generation, those born after 1978 or 1980, depending on which definition you use, are looking like they may bring real change to our world in ways never imagined before.
Millenials have some distinctive characteristics. According to the Pew Research Center's 2010 study, "Millenials: A Portrait of Generation Next," Millenials (also called Generation We) are, compared to their parents:
- More tolerant about racial and social differences.
- Less politically partisan.
- Less likely to attend an organized church on a regular basis.
- More likely to support a third political party.
- More technologically savvy.
- More "global."
- More connected to their peers (even those in other countries) than to their parent's generation.
- More innovative and entrepreneurial.
- More interested in the "common good" rather than individual gain.
- More politically "progressive" and lean more toward the Democratic Party (although the Republican Party is rapidly closing that gap)
- More distrustful of dominant institutions such as government, major corporations and traditional churches.
- More optimistic about change, but extremely negative about the current state of affairs in the United States.
Get the picture? Millenials are different from their older siblings (Generation X), their parents (Baby Boomers) and their grandparents (Silent Generation). What really jumps out about Millenials is their connectivity. They are the first generation to come of age in a time when personal computers were common and almost everyone had a cellular telephone. Maddening as it may be to their elders, Millenials march to the beat of their iPhones. Text messaging, anyone? Actually, for Millenials it is "Text messaging, EVERYONE!"
I could say more, but I really encourage you to watch our program to hear from three Millenials: State Representative Emily Virgin (D) Norman; John Milner, Co-founder of Tree and Leaf Clothing; and William Winfree, University of Oklahoma graduate student.
If you want more information about Millenials I encourage you to visit the website of the Pew Research Center and "Generation We" by Eric Greenberg and Karl Weber. Their research includes focus groups with Millenials explaining their generation.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time,
Dick PryorAdd a comment
Written by Dick Pryor on Monday December 5, 2011
December 4, 2011
Agriculture is always important in Oklahoma, but it's too big to fully discuss in one program. So, this week we have to focus. Our Big Topic features the effects of the extreme weather of the last year on Oklahoma's farmers and ranchers, and the 2012 federal Farm Bill.
This week's guests are Jim Reese, Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture and Commissioner of Agriculture, Food and Forestry; Scott Neufeld, Farmer/Rancher whose family is the winner of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau's "Family Farm of the Year" award; and Mike Spradling, President, Oklahoma Farm Bureau.
It's no surprise that the harsh winter weather, followed by the extreme drought, was devastating to Oklahoma's livestock and crop producers. Wheat has fared fairly well, but soybeans, corn and cotton have had difficult years. Alfalfa production has also suffered, which has hurt livestock producers forced to truck in hay from out-of-state. The effects of the weather illustrated how volatile the agriculture sector is in our economy, and how important federal crop assistance is to the viability of farming.
Oklahoma's 3rd District Congressman Frank Lucas serves as the Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture, so Oklahoma is well-positioned to have its agricultural interests well-represented in Washington, D.C. Scott Neufeld has spent a lot of time working with Congressman Lucas on the new farm bill, and his comments are especially insightful.
Lucas has worked with Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow to lay the foundation for the 2012 Farm Bill. Their work was done in secret, so few details are available, but it's believed that they were considering cuts of $23 Billion for farm programs. Their work was to become part of the Congressional "Super-Committee" plan for reducing the federal deficit, but with the failure of the "Super-Committee" to get an agreement by its deadline, the plan's future is in doubt. Neufeld indicated that the Lucas-Stabenow plan may now become the starting point for the next round of discussions on the 2012 Farm Bill.
We have provided links to resources on the Oklahoma Forum website, if you are interested in learning more about Oklahoma agriculture and the 2012 Farm Bill.
Until next time,
(Pictured above, left to right: Host Dick Pryor, Jim Reese, Scott Neufeld, Mike Spradling)Add a comment