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Legislators being misled by special interests

May 1, 2014

This article was published in the Duncan OK Banner April 30, 2014.

 

To begin at the beginning, making the latest “study” by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) the basis for delineating areas of improvements needed to bolster Oklahoma’s narrow economic base is a fallacy. Between ALEC and the touted Laffer (far right of the right wing of conservatism), that is a transition back to the recession from which we are now emerging. There are several areas of improvement needed before our state can become a magnet for the promotion of new or existing businesses wishing to relocate. As long as our elected officials in the Oklahoma Capital Building rely on others to write their new legislation proposals (instead of relying on the expertise of their constituents), the state will never achieve top-tier status.

Governor, can’t you and our elected legislators hear us? Our needs are clear.

If our elected legislators want someone else to do their work for them, they first need to look to those organizations which will be affected by outsiders’ attempts to improve our state programs. Let’s not “muddy already muddy water” by accepting dole from special interest groups which only create great costs and produce shoddy results.

If they can find the money, it appears that the Oklahoma State Legislators have addressed the pay disparities of our State Troopers. However, cities, counties and rural communities are still left without the funds to carry out unfunded mandates placed upon them by these same legislators.

The State of Oklahoma needs to have a school system that aligns with the growth of the technical revolution. To have organizations like ALEC and Achieve (a moneyed organization) pushing CORE standards that the Oklahoma Department of Education is ill prepared for does not bode well for inducing businesses to locate in Oklahoma.

A perfect example of this is the present fiasco over the Common Core Standards that have been designed by for-profit companies and governors with little or no knowledge of Education. Yes, most went to school and earned, as a minimum, a final degree in their field – but not in Education. They have no idea of what it takes to be an excellent educator (while working for less than stellar wages). Nor do they know the financial condition of the individual school districts within their representative areas.

And I must reiterate, “A low personal income tax does not create jobs.” What creates jobs is an up-to-date infrastructure, including a school system that is staffed and equipped to prepare students to continue their individual educational goals. The political adage of “one size fits all” is very harmful. Not all individuals want or are emotionally equipped for a four-year degree. What those students need is a curriculum which will prepare them to find suitable employment.

When surveying a community, businesses looking to relocate review security and livability which includes grade-A schools, availability of exceptional medical facilities and areas for social activities. There are portions of interest in a company’s survey that are beyond the financial abilities of the local area or state to perform without help from higher government entities. This is where too many politicians fall down on their jobs. They bow to those providing the largest special-interest contributions to their campaigns and forget about their constituents.

If state officials want to use the excellent status of our regional hospitals and supporting medical facilities to bring in more employers, they might want to look at Arkansas’s Medicaid Expansion Program. 70 Percent of those meeting the Affordable Care Act’s financial requirements have signed up in the Arkansas program. If Oklahoma duplicated this endeavor, our governor and legislature could still let another mediary outline the plan, but at least it would be accomplishing healthcare for our qualifying Medicaid citizenry.

I wait in great despair for the next bill to come out of our legislature, written by out of state entities, with the word, “OKLAHOMA,” substituted for “enter state name here.”

 

 

 

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