When it came to the state's budget this past session, whether it was in the phone calls to my office or the emails I received, there were two things I heard over and over:

"You must raise taxes!"

"You must cut spending!"

Generally speaking, it was a call to raise taxes and spend more, or it was a demand that spending be cut, and sometimes cut taxes.

Let's focus on the idea of cutting spending.

There are some things the state government must oversee and funds must be allocated for them. Education, public safety, child advocacy and protection, our prison system, senior nutrition, roads and bridges and a wide variety of other programs must be sustained and properly funded.

But, at what levels must each program be sustained, and what is proper funding?

Are there programs that should be eliminated or agencies that should be merged?

Are there duplicative services that can be eliminated?

How can we make an agency or program more efficient and eliminate waste?

I am no expert on the budgets of all the programs and agencies in the State of Oklahoma's government, though I am continually striving to learn more.

So here's my request to you.

Help me.

Don't just complain that the state needs to "live within its means," a refrain I saw in many emails, but tell me how to get there. Agency budgets are available online. Dig into your favorite areas of the state's budget and tell me line items to eliminate, programs that need to be reduced or eliminated, and other ways to cut spending.

Give me concrete, specific examples I can investigate and possibly take action on. Make a logical argument for your position.

Who knows how many bills I could author to cut waste, with your help.

I welcome your questions and concerns, so please feel free to contact my office at the State Capitol if you would like to discuss a particular issue or problem. Our office can be reached by phone at 405-521-5561 or by email at bergstrom@oksenate.gov. If you visit the Capitol, we are located in Room 527A.