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Quotes of the Day

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May 3,

“For years now, the state has been underfunding services that Oklahoma families rely on. Politicians and special-interest groups have succeeded by dividing us. It’s going to take all of us working together to begin righting this ship — everyone from underpaid teachers working in overcrowded classrooms to Highway Patrol troopers limited to 100 miles of driving each day.”

-Let’s Fix This Executive Director Andy Moore and Stand for Children Executive Director Amber England, calling on legislators to pass a budget with significant new investments in services (Source). Read the Blueprint for a Better Budget here.

May 2,

“We weren’t joking when we put out the 14.5 (percent cut) scenarios. So far … we’ve brought in $50 million. Our budget hole is $1 billion. … We will close regional colleges. … We will never get more dollars into the per pupil formula. We will never have a teacher pay raise. We will lay off 25 percent of our (Highway Patrol) troopers.”

-Rep. Leslie Osborn, on the need to find new revenue sources to fill the budget gap (Source)

May 1,

“Anyone familiar with the economics of drilling knows that taxes rarely determine where to drill. Most successful companies drill where the oil and natural gas is located — not where tax policy is lenient.”

– Former mayor of Tulsa and president of Keener Oil & Gas Co. Dewey Bartlett arguing for the restoration of the gross production tax to 7% (Source)

April 28,

“We have to come together with our partners, like this wonderful group of energy partners that has come together with us and said, ‘we set the rate too low. We have to look forward to bringing in new recurring dollars, and there is nothing more important to fund besides those core services than our future. And our future is our children.’”

– House Appropriations and Budget Chair Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang), on the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance’s suggested gross production tax increase (Source)

April 27,

“Today, we have 62,000 in our system. What bothers me is back in December, we hit a record population of 61,000. It has taken just four months for an additional 1,000 people to be included in our numbers of incarcerated, supervised, and county jail backup.”

– Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh (Source)

April 26,

“Ultimately we found that there are many serious systemic flaws in Oklahoma’s death penalty process that obviously can and have led to innocent people being convicted and put on death row. If we’re going to have the death penalty, it must be done right to ensure that no innocent person is executed.”

-Former Gov. Brad Henry, announcing the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission’s recommendation to maintain a moratorium on the death penalty and implement more than 40 changes to its process (Source)

April 25,

“I knocked on 3,500 door steps during the campaign, I didn’t have one person say, ‘go up there and change the gun laws.’ Those conversations weren’t happening. It was constantly over and over and over again: fix the budget, help diversify our economy, and fix education.”

-Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee) (Source)

April 24,

“If you’re pinching pennies, this bill helps save money by kicking young kids out of class, reducing their services, and getting the state off-the-hook for paying to educate and counsel them. If, however, you are trying to educate a generation of children to become productive adults, it undermines that goal in almost every way. In fact, in the long term, it will probably also cost the state more money, fueling the ‘school to prison pipeline,’ as children who can’t make it in school turn to antisocial behavior and crime.”

– Joe Dorman speaking about SB 81, a bill that would allow out-of-school suspension for students as young as third grade (Source)

April 21,

“Tribal nations have survived disease, removal from our homelands, termination and other adversities, and still we prospered. However, I fear the opioid epidemic is emerging as the next great challenge of our modern era.”

– Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, which has filed a lawsuit in tribal court accusing drug distributors and pharmacies of flooding communities in Oklahoma with highly-addictive pain pills [Source]

April 20,

“I wish for all of my teachers to get raises, of course, but what concerns me is there is no mechanism to pay that. If they put that burden on us (the schools) … added with all the budget cuts already … it’s really going to cause a struggle for us. The reality becomes this: we’re going to give everyone a pay raise, but at almost $200,000 to afford that the first year, I would have to let at least four teachers go. We’re going to have to make the tough decisions, not the state, and honestly, I haven’t given up hope. There are some good ideas proposed by the Democrats to help pay for this, so I hope good ideas prevail over bipartisan politics.”

– Wagoner Public Schools Superintendent Randy Harris (Source)