Democrat Stone challenges McDaniel for District 83 (Edmond Sun)

By James Coburn 

Many Oklahomans are not pleased with what is happening at the state Capitol, said Jason Stone, D-Edmond.

Stone, 43, is the only Democrat running for House District 83. He will face Republican incumbent Randy McDaniel, also of Edmond, in the Nov. 8 general election, according to the Oklahoma State Election Board.

“I feel they (legislative leaders) are not valuing our future. They are not valuing our children’s education,” said Stone, who serves as the division head of Liberal Arts at OSU-OKC where he teaches. Since he has had that position at OSU/OKC he has seen his operating budget decrease by 25 percent.

“We’re not in a position where we are being encouraged to dream. We’re not in a position where we’re being encouraged to grow. And it’s not even a position where we’re being encouraged to hold on to what we have,” Stone said.

At OSU/OKC Stone manages budgets exceeding $1 million in state funds. The fifth generation Oklahoman and  educator has lived in District 83 since 2001.

Oklahoma lawmakers are making budgetary decisions as state government wrestles with a $1.3 billion revenue shortage that many blame on a decreased amount of oil revenue.

“The oil and gas downturn does of course impact things, but it’s a very small percentage of why things are being impacted,” Stone said. “Some statistics from and the Oklahoma Policy Institute indicate that’s only about a little bit over $100 million or so.”

Decreases in state income tax accounts for nearly $1 billion of the budget shortfall during the past decade, stated David Blatt, director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

“That was completely predictable,” Stone said.

One reason that United Airlines chose not to move to Oklahoma in the early 1990s was due to the state’s low ranking educational system, he noted. Time and time again out-of-state businesses doubt they will find the educated workforce they will need for a major investment in Oklahoma, Stone said.

Stone said it is not acceptable that Oklahoma currently ranks No. 49 in teacher pay among the 50 states. Educational facilities themselves are inadequate in the state, he said.

“No parent and no person who cares about the future of our state can seriously look at what’s happening with the proposed solutions coming from Lincoln Boulevard and say that a four-day school week, a three-day week is going to prepare them for the kind of future that they need to have,” Stone said.

He criticized Gov. Mary Fallin signing legislation in April to allow taxpayers to donate their income tax refund to the state.

“To me that sounds completely ironic that we are going to fight tooth and nail to get these tax breaks for people, and then we’re going to say, Oh, if you really think the tax break went too far, we’d really have no problem taking that back,” Stone said.

Stone is also concerned about budget cuts to help the poor, mentally ill and elderly through Medicaid assistance. His mother receives Medicaid assistance as a stage-4 melanoma survivor.

“I have watched during her battle with cancer that her benefits have been eroded,” Stone said. “And I have watched as they have increased the copays on the medication that she needs.

“And I have watched essentially as they have taken food off of her table.”

Stone said the state of Oklahoma is neglecting the poor and downtrodden residents of Oklahoma with a complete disservice of Medicaid policies. The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid in the U.S., but Fallin refused to accept it, he said.

“There is approximately $1 billion of funding we could be using for our poor right now,” he said. “Rather than accept those funds, our legislators on Lincoln Boulevard continue to operate under the assumption that as long we don’t buy into the system, we can cut our way out of these revenue shortfalls.”

 Stone listed his areas of expertise as public policy analysis, educational leadership, communication studies, classroom instruction, training process improvement, assessment instrument construction, communication and technology audits, new technology adoption, team building facilitation, leadership development, executive speech coaching and academic program review.

Jason and Andrea Stone have a son who is a junior at Santa Fe High School and a daughter who is a seventh- grader at Summit Middle School. He is the past president of the Oklahoma Association of Developmental Education.

As he campaigns people tell him the most important thing they will vote for in November will be their children’s education.

“Randy McDaniel and his gang down on Lincoln Boulevard have failed the voters of District 83,” Stone said.

Stone earned his Master of Arts degree from Ball State University.

 in Communication Liberal Arts Studies, located in Indiana.

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