After back to back revenue failures in 2016 and 2017, the Oklahoma Legislature made a big push in their latest sessions to increase their tax base and diversify State income. House Bill 1010xx created a historic $447 million revenue package to help fund public school teacher pay raises and to try and prevent future budget crises.
Of the five candidates running for House District 66, only one opposes that package. Emily Delozier is running with the most conservative platform of the three Republican candidates, and points to the latest newsletter from the State Treasurer as justification.
“At $970.9 million, May Gross Receipts to the Treasury are a record high for May collections,” announced State Treasurer Ken Miller. “As has been the case each month for more than a year, Oklahoma’s economy is showing signs of ongoing expansion.” According to the May newsletter, gross revenue for the past twelve months is up $1.2 billion over the prior year.
The HB1010xx tax increases have yet to begin, leaving some conservative leaders calling for a complete veto of what they see as an unnecessary package. Delozier, together with conservative advocates including former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, helped found the group Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite with the goal of undoing that legislation.
“The corporations don’t pay the tax,” says Delozier. “They pass it on to somebody else.” She says the taxes on cigarettes, gas, and diesel will only negatively affect the average Oklahoman.
The OTU does not oppose the teacher pay raises themselves, passed in HB1023xx, but simply the funding mechanism behind those raises. The group is currently circulating a veto referendum petition to place State Question 799 on the ballot this November. SQ799 would put HB1010xx to a popular vote, but would leave the pay raises intact.
Despite the positive economic upturn, Denise Northrup, Office of Management and Enterprise Services director, told the Oklahoma Board of Equalization Monday that another revenue failure could be expected if SQ799 passes.
All four competitors for HD66 have declined to sign the OTE petition, while Delozier has a copy and welcomes signatures. Her work to oppose the largest tax hike in Oklahoma history has drawn endorsements from Dr. Tom Coburn, the Osage County Republican Party, and the Oklahoma Republican Assemblies over the incumbent Republican, Jadine Nollan.
"Poor leadership in Oklahoma has allowed legislators the easy way out, by throwing new taxes at old problems, instead of doing the hard work of implementing tax reform," said Coburn. "Abortion, Second Amendment rights, tax reform, jobs and educational funding are too important for business as usual, which has not worked. Emily DeLozier will serve well the Taxpayers of HD 66."
Delozier, 70, is a lifelong fourth-generation Sandite with kids and grandkids in the Sand Springs area. She holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Tulsa and three Associates Degrees from Tulsa Community College. She attends First Baptist Church and is an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
“Our mom has always told us, if you didn’t like the way something was being done, just do it yourself,” says Delozier, who has been dissatisfied with Nollan’s tenure in office.
“Right now they’re telling us nationwide that they don’t have enough employees to fill the job market…it’s not hit Oklahoma yet.” According to the May Treasurer’s Report, unemployment stands at 4.0% with more than 74,000 Oklahomans seeking jobs.
Delozier is critical of the HB1010xx tax increase on cigarettes and cigars, which she claims will have adverse effects on the State’s lower income communities. “Oftentimes people smoke because they use it as a coping mechanism…they’re unemployed or underemployed and don’t make enough money.”
“My stance on the revenue problem is that there isn’t really a revenue problem.” Delozier points to government mismanagement as responsible for much of the State’s problems, pointing to high profile cases in the Health Department and Department of Transportation (ODOT).
ODOT recently drew allegations of mismanagement when it appeared that $230 million was missing from the County Improvement for Roads and Bridges account. State Auditor Gary Jones later found that the missing funds were appropriated by the Legislature to deal with the 2017 State Budget crisis.
In May a grand jury found that the Health Department hid more than $30 million of State funding in Federal and County accounts while also claiming a $30 million budget gap and laying off nearly 200 employees.
Delozier calls for forensic audits of all State agencies, consolidation of public school districts and eliminating superintendent positions, and ending tax incentives as ways to improve State services without raising the budget.
“In theory (tax incentives) sound nice, but the truth is it kind of discriminates…Some of these really big guys are getting it at our (small businesses') expense. People want to do business in Oklahoma anyways. If we would fix our infrastructure that would attract more business here. They have to be able to deliver our goods without falling in a giant pothole. I don’t think tax incentives are fair to other businesses or to the taxpayers.”
Delozier is open to raising the minimum wage, but is critical of the Fight for Fifteen campaign, saying that much of an increase will lead to automation and elimination of jobs.
Delozier would like to end privatized prisons in Oklahoma, saying that the for-profit system has created a pressure to fill the penitentiaries and has catapulted Oklahoma to first in the nation in per capita incarceration.
State Question 788, which will put medical marijuana on the ballot along with the HD66 election, is a no-go for Delozier. “We already have legalized CBD oil, which is nonpsychotropic, and it can help veterans with PTSD and children that have seizures. But they’re wanting the THC in the plant, which is psychotropic.”
Delozier opposed HB3375, known as the “Ball and Dice Bill” which legalized games such as craps and roulette at tribal casinos. “I don’t think we need any additional gambling in Oklahoma.”
Delozier supported the Constitutional Carry bill that would have authorized citizens age 21 and older, as well as military personnel 18 and older, to carry a handgun either openly or concealed, without a state-issued license or permit. Senate Bill 1212 passed both chambers but was vetoed by Governor Mary Fallin.
“There’s a lot of cleanup that needs to be done,” summarized Delozier. “Abortion is strong on my mind. If I could do something to bring that to an end, I would feel like I had completed my life’s mission.”
Ultimately Delozier sums up her positions as being for less government, less taxes, and more tax reform. She previously ran against Nollan in 2016 and received 25.7% of the vote.
The Republican Primary will be held on Tuesday, June 26th. Delozier will face incumbent Jadine Nollan, as well as Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson. If no candidate receives at least 50% of the votes, then the top two candidates will advance to a runoff election on August 28th. The winner will face the Democratic nominee on November 6th.