Friday, January 9, 2009

Senate shuffle: Impact rule not in cards for Democrats

The Oklahoman Editorial
Published: January 9, 2009

Partisan card games in the newly Republican state Senate are off-putting, but the Democrats are playing a version of the class envy card in resisting a fiscal responsibility measure favored by GOP members.

The Senate on Tuesday held a number of procedural votes, with the tally for each splitting precisely along party lines. One of the measures requires a fiscal impact statement in bills that expand health care coverage for state employees.

This is an outgrowth of last session’s gamesmanship over an autism treatment mandate. The wise choice then was to agree that all future mandates be subject to fiscal impact rules. Wisdom lost that game. So here we are in 2009 dealing some of the same cards.

Democrats resisted the fiscal impact gambit with rhetoric, voiced particularly by liberal Sen. Tom Adelson, D-Tulsa, that lawmakers shouldn’t be in the pockets of the insurance industry. Well, senator, what about the pockets of taxpayers?

Increasing policy premiums means increasing the commissions earned by insurance agents. Risk firms pass along the cost of mandates. This is particularly troubling when it comes to autism behavioral therapy.

Estimates vary widely on what the autism mandate would cost, just as the prevalence rate for autism varies wildly according to how it’s measured. The height of irresponsibility in governance is to pass a mandate without knowing what it will cost the people as they fund policies for state workers, as well as their own policies in the private sector.

Deal us out on an impact-free autism mandate bill.

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