Law & Principles

With election over, time to focus on policy

November 15, 2022

Jonathan Small

Oklahoma voters have made their choices at the ballot box. Now it is time to focus on good policy. To that end, several major reforms could increase opportunity for all.

In education, policymakers can increase opportunity, thriving, and academic outcomes all while putting parents in charge by enacting universal school choice. When parents can choose, schools compete. States like Florida and Arizona that have broad school choice programs have seen academic outcomes increase significantly.

It’s time to have an all-in focus on significantly improving reading and reading comprehension. This will take rethinking how the school day is focused, fully committing to the science of reading and phonics. Reading is the key to all other learning.

We also need to reform outdated and failing compensation models for teachers. Let’s adopt and annually fund a model that significantly increases the salaries of the best-performing teachers and provides them with bonuses. We need to reform the system so teachers don’t have to wait on legislative votes before they receive an earned increase in pay, and it can be done without tax increases.

It’s also time to move to a 401(k)-style retirement for new teachers so we can better recruit teachers, give teachers and their families an asset, and allow teachers to vest or earn retirement benefits much faster like the private sector.

When it comes to the economy, we must end the penalty on work by phasing out the state income tax. States like Florida and Tennessee are thriving without state income taxes. At the same time, other conservative states are reducing or eliminating personal income taxes. If we don’t act, Oklahoma will lose our competitive edge. If you want less of something you tax it more, so why would we tax productive work?

We must also free innovators and job creators by reforming Oklahoma’s regulatory apparatus. We have more than 200 boards and commissions with regulatory power. Rather than empower bureaucracies, we need to empower entrepreneurs. That requires less regulation and fewer red-tape agencies.

It’s also time to reform the current application process for judicial vacancies. The current process, by way of the Judicial Nomination Committee, departs from how important government officials are selected in most other areas. It also allows special interests like the bar association to have outsized influence on who is eligible to be considered by the governor for judicial vacancies. Let’s move to the federal model—executive appointment with legislative confirmation—for judges.

And we must be both tough and smart on crime. Today, penalties for the same offense can vary wildly in different counties. We can keep crime down and reduce taxpayer waste. It’s time to update our felony classification system to provide statewide certainty and fairness.

Elections have consequences. If this year’s winners embrace this agenda, the consequences of the 2022 election can be very positive for Oklahomans for years to come.