That’s the rhetoric blubbering from both sides of the Republican-dominated Legislature and it comes off as rather hollow, self-serving and phony.
These are the same immature mumblers posing as important lawmakers who cut public education funding year after year until 2018 when thousands of the educators rallied at the Capitol which finally brought results – meaning a raise as well as one for support personnel.
Fast forward to today, five years later. Thanks to substantial federal funds, sin taxes from the lottery, horse racing and casinos plus high energy prices, the current bunch of preening pontificators are swimming in money but spend their dwindling days pointing fingers at each other [at least not the middle one in public yet], casting the other side as do-nothings who are more interested in scoring points than raising salaries.
Meanwhile, our 540 public schools are waving goodbye to another long caravan of cars filled with departing educators who may love Oklahoma but can’t stand another moment, month, year or decade of starvation wages and lip service from those whose main job is to write a state budget emphasizing education, health care, public safety and infrastructure.
But no. With barely five weeks left in the session, not a single appropriations bill has received a signature from Gov. Kevin Stitt. Rather, the holy rollers that dominate the Legislature have busied themselves with being busybodies, attacking and isolating gays, trans and women who want to control their own bodies’ reproductive functions.
Along the way they’ve also guaranteed the diversion of millions of public tax dollars to religious entities – known better as churches – so they might get in the education game, because apparently they don’t have enough to do saving souls, shouting sermons, and serving Sunday lunches while savoring their long cherished tax exempt status.
And the cabal of a half-dozen plus one middle aged white men who run The People’s Building – McCall, Treat, Echols, McCortney, Thompson, Wallace and a bystander named Stitt – think they are reflective of what makes up Oklahoma which, in fact, is 51% female, and by heritage 12% Native American, 10% Hispanic, 9% Black, 3% Asian and a mixture of the rest including a few Pacific Islanders.
Actually, the seven white guys who are deciding the future for the rest of us look more like an aging intramural basketball team from Nichols Hills arguing among themselves as to who will start the game and who the two substitutes will be.
Here are a few snippets I overheard during their huddle before the game:
Stitt: “I’m the tallest so I’m the team captain.”
Nominal leaders Treat and McCall simultaneously say: “No one listens to you so just go sit on the bench. We’ll call you when we need you.”
Budget boys Wallace and Thompson chime in: “We bought the uniforms, shoes and basketballs so if we don’t get to shoot all the time we’ll take our stuff and go home.”
Floor leaders Echols and McCortney say: “We scheduled the game in the first place so we are the reason we’re even here so we’re in charge.”
Meanwhile all the fans, who built the gymnasium and pay the salaries of the seven, don’t even show up anymore because they are down at Paycom Center watching real clowns – The Ringling Brothers are in town!*
*Just kidding: Ringling Brothers aren’t coming to OKC until mid-December.