At the close of this legislative session, Oklahoma has made national news again. As you probably know, it’s not good. Newspapers like The Washington Post and The Boston Globe are covering the sad results of our failures in public policy: shorter school weeks, shuttered rural hospitals, overcrowded prisons, and forcing state troopers to abide by a 100-mile daily driving limit. Teachers, who have not had a raise almost a decade, are leaving. But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen these headlines. Last year these SAME failures were covered by Time and Reuters. The year before, the news that the budget hole had doubled was on front pages. We knew in 2013, looking at the 2014 budget, that we were running out of money to fund core services, yet our lawmakers were still cutting taxes. Our GOP-controlled legislature has been telling us for half a decade that we need to run the state like a business. I think it’s safe to say that their strategy is not working. Our legislators failed to address any of these recurring problems this session.
It doesn’t have to be this way! Oklahoma lawmakers have yet to pay a political price for these problems. It’s time for voters to put an end to this by electing new people with new priorities. We can complain about our legislators—they certainly deserve it—but we also have to point the fingers at ourselves. We keep electing these people! But this session, like never before, constituents began fighting against this failure in leadership. Thousands of us showed up at the Capitol, kept calling our representatives, and continued to share our stories. Change is on the horizon, and Oklahomans are eager to do better.
Better policies were closer than ever to passing this year. There are many lawmakers (and potential lawmakers) who are ready to build on that progress and make some real policy changes next year. For the sake of the state, give us a shot!