To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Monday, August 2, 2021

Observercast

God Works In Mysterious Ways. Some Governors Are Just Mysterious.

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We got a bunch of The Former in Oklahoma and fortunately just one of the latter. By that I mean God does a lot of good, at least in my neighborhood, and I’ll bet yours too. However, on the governor side of the ledger, not so much.

As a matter of fact, our current, all-seeing, all-knowing, all-full-of-himself governor, Kevin Stitt, continues to prove he could, and would, screw up a two-car funeral procession if given the chance. So don’t give him the chance.

Admittedly strong words from a Former Somebody down here in No Man’s Land, AKA southern Cleveland County. Accordingly you deserve an explanation for them so here goes.

It seems to me our current governor, and former mortgage magnate gets up every morning with only two goals in mind: 1. Consolidate more power, control and authority over all facets of state government into his hands and 2. Repeat No. 1. For proof, which you have earned by reading this far, I offer the following:

  1. Our overwhelmingly Republican Legislature seemed determined in Stitt’s first year in office to make themselves as irrelevant as possible and they did a bang up job of it. It ceded almost all appointment powers to him over the five largest agencies, which also make up about 85% of the budget. He gets to also unilaterally select the agency heads and a majority of commissioners as well. Now I admit that only matters if you want to get something done without having to talk to the Legislature, which I agree is not always productive, positive or fun. However, if the Top Banana has to speak to others you have elected, it does resemble something called democracy which isn’t all bad.
  2. To underscore the importance of 1, Stitt, without consulting the Legislature, unilaterally signed $2 billion worth of contracts with four insurance companies who will take over the state’s highly respected Medicaid expansion program voters approved last June. Stitt, of course, was opposed even though administrative costs at OHCA run about 4% while the insurance giants are allowed to extract 15% overhead. And get this. All 16 health providers support retaining the current system and not the plan being pushed by Stitt. Now the whole issue is back in the Legislature because it must come up with the $2 billion large to start payment July 1 if the governor’s scheme receives approval.
  3. Not satisfied in just flipping upside down most of the health care systems in Oklahoma, our new to government governor, who never put any of his six kids in any of our state’s public schools, made appointments to the State Board of Education who were and are nothing more than rubber stamps for his anti-public schools rhetoric and policies. Case in point: Of the governor’s discretionary federal funds he has spent over 60% of it on the 7% of our kids who go to private schools. He also campaigned against the 2018 revenue package that gave our teachers and support personnel their first pay raises in 10 years and then took credit for them.
  4. Health care. Education. What’s next? Highways, of course. Through his control of the Transportation Commission, again courtesy of the numbskulls in the Legislature, Stitt has secretly moved to undo a number of tribal/state joint road projects without even advising the individual commissioners impacted. Proof? OK, how about the multi-million-dollar I-35/Highway 9W est project suddenly and without notice delayed simply by fiat from Stitt. My source: Highway Commissioner and former Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon who, not unimportantly, is also a member of the Chickasaw Tribe.
  5. Then there are smaller, lesser-known actions taken by Tsar Stitt, such as moving the Oklahoma Health Department’s laboratory from adjacent to the Oklahoma Health Sciences Center to a yet-to-be constructed new facility in Stillwater at the governor’s alma mater, Oklahoma State University. I guess that fits. Our new state epidemiologist is a veterinarian.
  6. And how could one forget the multi-million dollar costly and losing lawsuits against our tribal governments over a long settled issue – gaming compacts. Stitt didn’t care. It was your tax money being wasted, not his.

Enough for today. I guess there may be pockets of support for Stitt’s cavalier and costly approach to running a $22 billion business which happens to be no business at all. It is a government, yours not his. Just because our governor rarely bothered to vote for 20 years before assuming his lofty perch, doesn’t mean your votes don’t count, don’t matter, don’t have impact and don’t have value. They do, just not to the fellow that so many Oklahomans gave their vote three years ago.

Can you tell me why you would want to do that again?

Cal Hobson
Cal Hobson, a Lexington Democrat, served in the Oklahoma Legislature from 1978-2006, including one term as Senate President Pro Tempore.