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Quotes of the Day

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October 20,

“I try my best to always avoid exaggeration, but in this instance, the word ‘catastrophic’ is not hyperbolic. It’s accurate.”

– Mental Health Association Oklahoma CEO Mike Brose on the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services’ plan to eliminate virtually all outpatient treatment if a budget agreement isn’t reached soon (Source)

October 19,

“There’s a huge humanitarian issue here for people whose lives will seriously be lost due to suicide, due to opioid addiction, but also it’s an economic issue for the business communities, which they’re very concerned. For me, it’s a very harsh public safety issue. You’re going to see homelessness and crime rates increase when people don’t have access to services, and people are unemployed, and then the unemployment rate is going to go up, which is going to impact all these other core functions of government.”

– Melissa Baldwin, director of justice and policy for Mental Health Association Oklahoma, on the announcement that the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will initiate eliminating nearly all outpatient services in November if the Legislature doesn’t reach a budget deal by then. ODMHSAS reported the cuts will affect almost 189,000 people who are currently receiving outpatient services (Source)

October 18,

“These cuts are unbearable and will decimate our state’s behavioral health care system. Yet, they are the only choices the agency has left to keep from completely eliminating services for Oklahoma’s most acutely ill.”

– Department of Mental Health Commissioner Terri White, announcing $75 million in cuts – 23 percent of its budget – resulting from the Supreme Court striking down a $1.50 per pack cigarette fee earlier this year (Source)

October 17,

“We’re all competing for a piece of a pie that keeps getting smaller.”

– Susan Savage, CEO of Morton Comprehensive Health Services. The organization lost an uncompensated care contract with the state health department yesterday, the latest in a series of reductions in funding (Source)

October 16,

“We’re just so perplexed that there’s a lot of talk about right-sizing government, but I don’t hear any legislator talking about what the priorities are. Nobody wants your taxes to go up, but tell me what you want to cut then.”

– Craig Jones, President of the Oklahoman Hospital Association, discussing the frustration health care advocates feel about the inability of the state legislature to produce a budget plan during special session (Source)

October 13,

“I hope these numbers help provide anecdotal evidence to respond to the cost of living argument. Yes, some things cost more here in Texas. And when we begin to look at buying a house, that’s going to change things, too. But at the end of the day, we have something here in Texas that we likely never would have had teaching in Oklahoma: financial stability.”

– Former Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Shawn Sheehan, sharing his family’s budget information to show that he and his wife are earning roughly $40,000 more teaching in Texas than they did in Oklahoma (Source)

October 12,

“Even assuming that the Midwest City jail officials did everything they were legally required to do here, I think we need to take a long hard look at ourselves as a society and say ‘Is this the best we can do?’ I don’t think it is. We can do better and we should do better.”

– ACLU of Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel, following the suicide of an inmate. Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes estimates that 85 percent of the jail’s inmates have a substance abuse or mental health issue (Source)

October 11,

“Under guise of a drug alcohol rehabilitation program, CAAIR and Simmons have subjected the Plaintiffs and putative class members to virtual slave labor. …We have filed the lawsuit in an effort to expose this inhumane practice, recover remedies for those wronged and hopefully put an end to these unfair and unlawful labor practices.”

– From a statement by attorneys representing Oklahomans who participated in a controversial court diversion program. Recent investigations found that workers in the program worked long hours in dangerous conditions for only room and board, received no formal drug and alcohol treatment, and had their worker’s compensation payments confiscated by the program (Source)

October 10,

“There is no question we’re going through some difficult times, so instead of holding onto my pledge, I will take a step back and see what’s best for the great state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma comes first instead of my pledge.”

– Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, saying he would consider voting for certain tax increases despite signing a pledge not to raise taxes (Source)

October 9,

“There’s been a lot of disorderly resignations over the past two years and it’s kind of broken trust with the Oklahoma voters. The Oklahoma people have been disappointed and lawmakers have not really been held accountable for the cost of the special elections they cause.”

– Rep Zack Taylor (R-Seminole), who has introduced a bill that would require lawmakers who resign due to misconduct to pay for the cost of a special election and forfeit any accrued retirement benefits (Source)

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