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Quotes of the Day

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February 14,

“[Schools] are looking for any way possible to be efficient. What we would like to see is a long-term funding plan for education and improved funding for schools so they can add instructional time. We believe our students need more instructional time, but schools can’t offer the more instructional time without having the resources needed.”

– Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, on SB 37, which would have required schools to have five-day weeks. The bill failed in committee on Monday (Source)

February 13,

“When you say it’s a national problem, it only proves our point. Our teachers are going to Texas and Arkansas and Kansas because they’ve got shortages, too. To me, when the politician stands up and says this is a national problem, my response is, ‘well duh, why do you think our teachers are going to other states for?’”

-Jason James, superintendent of Alex Public Schools, speaking about teacher shortages in Oklahoma and other states (Source).

February 10,

“We realize there are many compelling voices and requests for state funding this year. If there is a core function of state government and a basic value in Oklahoma, it is to care for those who are least able to care for themselves.”

– Pam Richardson of Volunteers for America, urging the Legislature to provide the supplemental funding the state Department of Human Services needs to continue home- and community-based services for seniors and people with disabilities. With its current budget, DHS will be unable to pay providers after March (Source)

February 9,

“Eliminating the grocery tax will be good for the clients we serve. But we are concerned that the revenue needs to be replaced with something.”

– Effie Craven,  state advocacy and public policy director at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, on Gov. Fallin’s proposal in her State of the State to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries. The measure would save Oklahoma families hundreds of dollars, but would cost the state $234.7 million per year (Source). Our statement on the Governor’s speech is available here

February 8,

“I didn’t hear about drug court until I got to prison. And a lot of fellows was asking me, ‘Why [didn’t they] send you to drug court? Why are you here?’ It was crazy.”

-Autrey Lake, an Oklahoma man who was sentenced to five years in prison for having half a pill of ecstasy (Source)

February 7,

“Oklahoma will continue to struggle if we don’t fix the structural deficits of our budget. Let’s focus on the reality of our state budget deficit. To start, for decades, we have attempted to balance our budget for too long with the use of one-time resources. We cannot afford to pass another budget using a large amount of non-recurring revenue.”

-Governor Mary Fallin, calling for the Legislature to pass new recurring revenues in her State of the State address (Source). Read our statement on the Governor’s speech here.

February 6,

“There should be a comprehensive plan in place that addresses pay for working professionals in the state. (This) shouldn’t be a political football that’s kicked around. (Employees) may be 10 years without a raise simply because their agency is too large. It would just be a huge blow to see people forgotten time and time again.”

-Oklahoma Department of Human Services employee Cindy Shewmake, speaking about the need to increase pay for state workers, who make 23.5 percent less on average than comparable positions elsewhere (Source).

February 3,

“We can’t afford to keep doing the things we’ve been doing in this state.”

– Gov. Mary Fallin, explaining why she’ll announce a major overhaul of the state’s tax system (Source)

February 2,

“It costs about $23,000 per year to house an inmate with SMI, severe mental illness. That’s about $4,000 per year more than other inmates. But it costs only $5,000 per year to treat someone with a brain disease, a few hundred dollars more if they’re in an intensive program through a drug court or mental health court. The first problem is that the alternative court systems are full; new people get in only when someone graduates. And if there’s no opening, they go from being a client of White’s to an inmate of Allbaugh’s at four- to five-times the price, and with a much less desirable outcome. Prisons just don’t make good hospitals.”

– Ted Streuli, editor of the Journal Record, arguing the legislature should invest in treatment for addiction and mental illness rather than incarceration (Source)

February 1,

“The ink is barely even dry on the votes that Oklahomans cast in November. I think it would be indefensible for the Legislature to usurp the voters and go against the work that Oklahomans have done.”

– Former state House Speaker Kris Steele, executive director of The Education and Employment Ministry, on legislation filed to significantly alter language in SQs 780 and 781, which reclassified some drug crimes and reinvested savings from doing so in prevention and were approved by Oklahoma voters in November (Source). OK Policy supported both measures. 

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