To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Observercast

Stinker Of A Session

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It was a big week at the Capitol: House Speaker Charles McCall gave his farewell address. Gov. Kevin Stitt dropped his income tax cut demand, trading it for giveaways to corporate welfare kings and queens. And wealthy campaign donors were transformed into higher education regents, including one living in Texas.

OK, those are the highlights, so let’s take them one at a time:

MCCALL GAVE A LENGTHY, TEAR-FILLED exit speech. Meanwhile, the 102nd member of the House also was in attendance. Some know him as Gov. Kevin Stitt. McCall was articulate, funny, sincere but regularly overstated the accomplishments of the Legislature during his eight-year reign.

Don’t believe me? Following are the facts in Oklahoma right now:

1. Only two states pay their teachers less.

2. Oklahoma’s general population has one of the shortest, if not the shortest, life expectancy in the nation.

3. The Legislature turned down $10 billion of our federal tax money during McCall’s time as leader by rejecting Medicaid expansion.

4. A whole series of state and federal investigations are pending while convictions have been obtained for others who have already gone to trial.

5. McCall spent less time on the House floor than any other speaker in recent state history, which meant the monkeys were allowed to play without supervision.

6. Five House members were kicked out for ethical violations or subjected to internal punishments.

7. While professing care and concern for the little guy, McCall led a House that believes $7.25 an hour is a just-fine minimum wage.

8. Worst of all, McCall sold his soul, not to mention his gavel, to Stitt in order to position himself as a viable candidate for governor in 2026.

SPEAKING OF SPEAKERS, it appears the Big Three at the Capitol – Lame but Courageous Duck Senate President Greg Treat, Lame Duck McCall and even Lamer Governor Stitt cut a budget deal that does the following: Stitt no longer demands a .25% reduction in the personal income tax, trading it away for business and corporate goodies such as further reduction of the corporate income tax; creation of a business “court” to expedite settlement of lawsuits; and more lifting of regulatory restrictions.

A RAFT OF RICH PEOPLE were approved to be regents at various universities and colleges with the main plum going to Kenneth Waits, an OU grad and, naturally, an oil man who replaces former Gov. Frank Keating on the OU Board of Regents. He’s fully qualified, a successful man in the energy business now going on three decades.

My only beef with him is he is the second regent at OU who doesn’t live in our state. The other fellow lives in Ohio. Like Stitt loves to say, his main job is to represent all four million Oklahomans and, apparently, a few other non-residents since he couldn’t find an appropriate Okie to put on the panel that supervises our flagship university.

So those are the big deals, at least in the minds of the Big Dealers – all white men – who are making all the rules for the rest of us will live by, from A to Z, at your Oklahoma Legislature.

P.S. Don’t try to get a dinner reservation at the fancy restaurants in OKC. They’re all booked up with lawmakers and lobbyists celebrating another below average ending to the annual session you get to pay for.

Its grade for most of us? C-. For minorities, especially Hispanics? F. For women of any color, sexual orientation, income status, employment opportunity, personal safety? F-.

But for those of a certain class and color, it’s party down time in the capital city.

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