According to SoonerPoll's latest research, almost all of us agree that there's plenty of ways to make harmless cuts to this budget.
Rep. George Faught presented a bill to end the "swag" spending by elected officials. About $34 million is spent on banquets, token gifts, plaques, trophies, and other means of making the incumbents look generous, hospitable, and most of all.. important. Faught's bill never got out of committee. Many of his fellow Republicans killed it.
With several dozen universities in the state, somehow our legislature still believes we need to subsidize them to the tune of over $6,000 per full time student. It's a giveaway that benefits wealthier families more than the poor.
If Oklahoma had ended the swag and the college subsidies, we would have had a surplus in each of the past 5 years.
Criminal justice reform was shamefully thwarted by a couple of strategically-placed committee chairmen. The leadership is also responsible for their actions. Several task force recommendations failed to get to the floor for votes. Rep. Scott Biggs and Sen. Anthony Sykes are disgracing their offices by acting as dictators in opposition to the will of the voters and their colleagues.
The voters called for several reforms in criminal justice, last November. The authors of the initiative petitions were trusting the legislature to continue that work through statutory structuring so that our dubious reputation for ruining lives with felony punishments would go away. Folks with petty charges or simple possession of harmless pot were supposed to get shorter sentences and more opportunity for getting their lives together.
Some wanted to overturn the state questions (780 & 781) completely. One of them got arrested and removed from power before he could harm more lives.
Everyone paid lip-service about caring for the mentally ill, but we still send far more of them to jail than to state-run mental health institutions so they can get recovery and become productive again. I'm not talking about the ones who committed real crimes. They need to be helped in a forensic program. But too often they just rot in jail cells, indefinitely.
We have a billion dollars sitting in a TSET fund. That account is not being made available to deal with the addiction problems of Oklahomans. TSET spends more on salaries and media buys than on people trying to get therapy for addictions. The legislature could have taken the initiative to change that. They didn't seem to want to. Instead they wanted to raise more tobacco tax.
Our monument to the history of laws is still exiled from the capitol complex. The stone depiction of the Hebrew Decalogue is deemed a threat to society. Our National Guard Chapel may be the next thing to go. Even our chaplains may get kicked out of the state militias.
Our marriage statutes remain inconsistent with our constitution and the federal rulings. Rep Todd Russ had a great bill, but another committee chairman, Chris Kannady, decided to kill it, all by himself.
The good accomplishments
Opinion of the Editor
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David Van Risseghem is the Director of Sooner Politics.org. The resource is committed to informing & mobilizing conservative Oklahomans for civic reform. This endeavor seeks to utilize the efforts of all cooperative facets of the Conservative movement...