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Quotes of the Day

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May 23,

“Oil and gas leaders, it’s time to step up (again) and decide — are you a part of this community or are you here for the ‘shareholder value?’ You need to answer this carefully because if you want to treat Oklahoma and its citizens with a ‘it’s just business’ attitude — we can do that and you’ll be facing citizens demanding more than just 7 percent GPT.”

-Lanie James, a former oil and gas communications professional, urging energy companies to contribute to solving the state’s budget crisis through higher gross production taxes (Source)

May 22,

“We would love to be able to just roll up a bus — and have paid leave — to come up here and advocate on behalf of their services. State employees to do this have to take their own annual leave and leave their work site. You very well can’t do that at a prison, and DHS is so understaffed like a lot of agencies. They can’t absorb the caseload. We’re advocating on behalf of restoring the 7 percent gross production tax. It’s part of the shared funding to restore core services, including education and the Department of Corrections.”

– Tom Dunning, communications director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association and a representative of Save our State, speaking about employees of the oil and gas industry’s lobbying efforts at the state capitol last week. (Source)

May 19,

“We knew that (lawmakers) were acting a lot like the passengers of the Titanic (who) started rearranging deck chairs while the ship was sinking, ignoring the reality that the ship was sinking. …We wanted to give them a visual representation. We don’t have to hit that iceberg. We actually have a choice.”

– OK Policy Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator Kara Joy McKee, who along with other organizers of the Save Our State Coalition wore bright orange life vests with a cardboard cutout of the Titanic as part of an effort to convince legislators to raise the gross production tax (Source)

May 18,

“In a budget of $6 billion, I think we can prioritize a teacher pay raise.”

– Rep. Michael Rogers (R-Broken Arrow), on two teacher pay raise bills in a key House committee on Wednesday. Funding sources have not been identified for either bill (Source)

May 17,

“I’ll own it. I made a mistake. We lowered the our base too low. … Let’s go the way of Kansas and Sam Brownback. How’s that’s working? No matter what you hear, things are falling apart there.”

-House Appropriations and Budget Chair Leslie Osborn, arguing for new revenue in next year’s budget (Source

May 16,

“I think it’s being used as a ploy, a leveraging point. If there’s a will there’s a way. There’s just no will right now.”

-Craig Jones, president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, on the failure of a cigarette tax increase in the House of Representatives yesterday (Source)

May 15,

“In terms of quality of life and core government services, we are truly in a race to the bottom. As an oilman and banker, I know that we cannot attract talent nor retain our bright high school and college graduates nor generate any true economic development with poor schools, healthcare, public safety and infrastructure. We are seeing an evacuation of our best and brightest, and not just teachers.”

George Kaiser, founder of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, urging lawmakers to find a real solution to the state’s budget crisis (Source)

May 12,

“This session is a series of very difficult votes for every party. And it is going to be a gut check for every member whether or not they are willing to step up and make the very, very difficult votes at a very, very difficult time and then go back to their district and explain why they did what they did.”

– Oklahoma House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City) (Source)

May 11,

“Budget cuts of this magnitude mean that district leaders must make extraordinarily difficult decisions to balance the budget and keep our doors open to the 40,000 children we serve. The best interests of our kids must always come first, but the unfortunate reality is that nearly a decade of chronic underfunding of public education in Oklahoma has put us in a position where any decision we make will impact our students, teachers, and schools.”

– Excerpt from an email sent to parents, teachers, and staff of the five southwest Tulsa schools Superintendent Deborah Gist plans to propose consolidating as part of the budget reduction plans to be presented at a special school board meeting Thursday evening (Source)

May 10,

“I am really, really, disheartened. You know, I have thought about going to other districts, about putting my children in private school, but the fact is that education everywhere is struggling.”

-Tammy McCartney, a mother of two and former teacher, on the prospect of further cuts to public education in this year’s budget (Source)

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