In other words: situation normal. Thirty-six months from now, you’ll enjoy an average tax reduction of 35 cents a day. Gov. Mary Fallin says that is necessary for Oklahoma to be more attractive to business decision-makers. Thirty-five cents daily more in our pockets with an effective date of 2016 doesn’t meet the smell test. Regardless, how about a bouquet or two for our leaders?
The good: One for solons is to write a budget setting priorities for the next fiscal year. A budget blueprint was passed early, so credit is due appropriators.
Also, Fallin deserves a plaudit for engineering modest funding increases for education, health care, mental
health and children’s services. But don’t tell the Tea Partiers she did it. The 2014 elections are coming.
The bad: Oh, boy. Why in the world wouldn’t our leaders pass a bill allowing for local control of smoking when we continue to have the fourth-highest rate of smokers in the nation?
Those who light up share with non smokers their deadly product through secondhand smoke. The situation will kill 700 more nonsmokers this year and raise everyone’s insurance premiums.
In addition, legislative leaders easily could have taken steps to address the problem of teenagers driving while texting. Most states already have. It wouldn’t cost anything and undoubtedly would save lives, but Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, said no.
The lowest point of the session came when even the most minimal effort to extend health insurance to just a handful of our working poor went down in flames. Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, also an emergency room doctor, deserves credit for at least trying.
The goofy: Space does not allow full coverage in this wing-nut category, but once again, our lawmakers went after Sharia law, a nonexistent problem; the alleged threat of the United Nations invading our state (Texas is a greater risk for us because they covet our oil and beautiful women); weaponizing teachers and passing a passel of expensive and unconstitutional laws.
And all this is from the group that says it wants government out of our lives — except when they want to insert it. Sometimes literally.
There are many fine, hardworking folks at the Capitol, but those who call the shots are in the far-right wing of a very conservative Republican party. When highway patrol troopers, corrections officers, teachers and other public servants are told to wait another year for consideration while yet another useless pay study is conducted, the situation reminds me of a lesson from history.
When Rome was burning in A.D. 64, Nero fiddled. In so many unfortunate, embarrassing and even dangerous ways, Oklahoma is already on fire.
Hobson, a Democrat from Lexington, is a former state senator and Senate president pro tempore.
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