Oklahoma Senator Charles Wyrick was the key speaker at the Grove Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday.
In light of the events of the shooting in Arizona, Wyrick shared his own experience of a time that he was threatened by someone that was mentally disturbed.
“I know we can’t prevent these things from happening, but we can be responsible for how we behave towards one another,” Wyrick said.
Wyrick told the crowd of about 50 people that a lot of tough decisions are going to have to be made this coming year concerning the state budget due to the shortfall.
Wyrick addressed the reduction of income tax that is due to take place this year.
“I believe that as part of my responsibility is to look at state government as a business that provides services to people and are we making the right business decisions to provide those services to the constituency,” Wyrick said.
The tax break that is going to take place will move the tax break from 5 ½ to 5 ¼, and costs the state $46 million collectively, according to Wyrick.
“The next fiscal year budget, when you factor all of this in, the projected impact is $160 million,” he said.
Wyrick said the impact of the tax reduction to the average family of four that lives in this district will be $4 a month.
“Individually that is not a lot of money, collectively, over a period of time that is $160 million. We’ve got education needs and department of correction needs that aren’t even met for this fiscal year,” Wyrick said.
“You can’t get this money from thin air, so when we are required by the Constitution to balance the budget we either slash services or we cut education funding further, or we cut Department of Corrections funding further, or raise some sort of fees," said Wyrick.
Wyrick said campaign promises of tax reduction are unrealistic. He said it’s only fiscally responsible to analyze whether that is the best solution.
Wyrick fielded questions from the crowd about other budget matters, education, flood plain map changes and the health care system.
The lunch group also listened to a report from Grove School Superintendent Sandy Harper as well as Integris Grove Administrator Greg Martin.