Statement: New elected leaders must take a hard look at what keeps Oklahoma from being a ‘top ten state’

Oklahoma Policy Institute released the following statement on yesterday’s election results:

In this year’s elections, one message was clear: Oklahoma voters want a change from the policies of the past eight years that have resulted in severe cuts to our schools, health care, and other critical services and that have failed time and again to create broadly shared prosperity.

Governor-elect Stitt campaigned on a promise to make Oklahoma a “Top-Ten State.” Now that the campaign is over and the work of governing begins, we hope he and lawmakers will take a hard look at what is keeping Oklahoma in the bottom on so many metrics: high poverty rates, over-incarceration, not enough living wage jobs, inadequate access to health care, and years of cuts to our schools and other services needed by families to overcome these barriers.

We are especially encouraged by the increased voter turnout and new interest by so many Oklahomans to run for public office. We hope this momentum continues and that our state’s leaders commit to reinforcing and increasing democratic participation in years to come.

As the dust settles from these elections, there will no doubt be plenty of analysis about what the outcomes mean, who’s up and who’s down, and what it all means for politics in our state. But let’s not forget what’s really at stake as newly elected lawmakers turn from campaigning to governing: the livelihood and well-being of hard-working Oklahomans from every corner of the state, from all different backgrounds, and at vastly different stations in life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gene Perry joined OK Policy in January 2011. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism. Gene also serves on the board of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network, is a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, and has chaired the communications advisory committee for the State Priorities Partnership, a nationwide network of state fiscal policy think tanks. He lives in Tulsa with his wife Kara Joy McKee, who is a Tulsa City Councilor.

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