03 Mar

The Bloodletting of Oklahoma’s Education and Health Agencies

[Oklahoma City, OK, March 3, 2016] Republicans’ reckless tax cuts continue to bleed Oklahoma’s public education, healthcare, and public safety agencies dry with today’s announcement of an additional four percent across-the-board cut to agencies. Public education will receive the largest additional cut of $62.4 million, bringing the total since the start of the year to $109.2 million. With growing classroom sizes, abysmal teacher pay, and the elimination of programs and school days, how much more can Oklahoma’s teachers and students endure before Oklahoma says enough?

Instead of battling these real issues, Republican leaders, including Mary Fallin and Todd Lamb, are pushing to take even more money from public education through vouchers for private schools in urban areas while parents are still on the hook for a hefty portion of tuition and fees at those institutions that would have no public accountability.

Additionally, with the Republican-controlled legislature planning to kick over 110,000 Oklahomans off of SoonerCare, including 77,000 women, the additional cut to the Health Care Authority will result in many rural Oklahomans being cut off from reasonably-accessible health care services in their communities. Numerous rural hospitals have already cut services or shuttered their doors as a result of previous cuts and Governor Fallin’s refusal to accept Medicaid expansion, but that only seems to be the start.

The Oklahoma GOP continues to starve our state of vital core services through their mindless and irresponsible actions. The incompetence shown by Fallin, Lamb, and the rest of the Republican “leadership” is already costing this state new business and revenue and could now cost people their lives. Barely three months into the new year, and just one month into the legislative session, Oklahoma is well on track to end up in an even worse financial crisis than neighboring Kansas.

Oklahoma’s future is sinking and all Governor Fallin and legislative Republicans care to do is rearrange the deck chairs. It is far past time to halt additional tax cuts, cease discussion of elimination of tax breaks which directly benefit the middle-class as opposed to corporations, expand Medicaid, and get down to finding real solutions to these very real problems.


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02 Mar

Republicans Take State Budget Woes Out On Middle-Class Oklahomans

[Oklahoma City, OK, March 2, 2016] Oklahoma’s dire budget situation is not news to anyone in Oklahoma; however, the discussion of how to address it grows more concerning each day as hard-working, middle class Oklahomans are targeted again and again while the ultra-wealthy and large corporations continue to get a free pass. After over two hours of floor debate this morning, all 30 House Democrats voted against House Bill 2665 by Representative Doug Cox (R-Grove) which would cut over 110,000 people from SoonerCare, including 77,000 women.

Cox, Doug“The Oklahoma GOP’s war on women is blatantly obvious after the Republican-controlled legislature’s multiple attempts to restrict access to healthcare over the past six years but even this is a low blow. The GOP’s position that women should be the ‘caretakers’ of the family, setting aside career aspirations to care for children, makes this move one of the most despicable yet, no matter how much the author says he ‘is not happy about the proposal,'” said Sarah Baker, Communications Director for the Oklahoma Democratic Party.

“The Republicans continue to deny Oklahoma a revenue stream which could not only prevent this proposal from being an option, but allow us to direct funds to other areas of the budget that are starving.” Baker said. “It’s time for Governor Fallin and the rest of the Republican ‘leadership’ to suck it up and accept Medicaid expansion.

“When you have women leaving their jobs because the cost of childcare is too high for even middle-class Oklahomans and then turn around and deny them access to healthcare, we have a serious morality issue. The Oklahoma Republican Party is systematically stripping away every bit of opportunity for not just women and children in Oklahoma to succeed in our state, but the entire middle class.

“When the middle class is provided with the opportunity to succeed, our economy will succeed. While we agree that more must be done to fix our state’s budgetary issues, we shouldn’t do it on the back of those that are struggling the most, including our low-income parents and schoolchildren. With all of the cuts to education, healthcare, and public safety, it’s abundantly clear that Republicans don’t care about the future of Oklahoma.”


02 Mar

ODP Statement on Last Night’s Democratic Primary

[Oklahoma City, OK, March 2, 2016] Yesterday, voters in Oklahoma’s Democratic Presidential Primary went to the polls and favored Senator Bernie Sanders over Secretary Hillary Clinton by a vote of 52-percent to 42-percent respectively; the remaining five Democratic candidates, including Martin O’Malley, received six percent of votes cast collectively. Based on unofficial results, Sanders will tentatively gain 21 delegates while Clinton receives 17. The four Oklahoma superdelegates are not included in those numbers. This was the first time that voters registered as Independent were allowed to vote in the Democratic primary.

“We wish to congratulate Senator Sanders on his hard fought victory in the Oklahoma Primary. The Sanders team made a tremendous effort here and the results of last nights election clearly show that. We want to thank both Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton for their visits to our great state and on running campaigns based on the issues facing Oklahomans of all backgrounds and not on the fear-mongering, name-calling, and hateful rhetoric that’s been put forth by the Republican candidates,” said Mark Hammons, Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman.

“We are proud of the work done by both candidates to help energize our base and reignite passion within our party. We look forward to joining Democrats from around the country this July in Philadelphia to select our nominee to be the next President of the United States and we want to thank the many supporters and volunteers across the state who put in so much effort for this election,” said Hammons.


29 Feb

Help Wanted: Republican GOP Candidates Leave Voters Looking for More

[Oklahoma City, OK, February 29, 2016] No experience? No problem! This Republican field is not only the most extreme in recent memory, but also the least qualified in recent memory. Donald Trump has no experience in elected office whatsoever. Ted Cruz’s main contribution during his time in Washington has been shutting down the government he wants to lead. And Marco Rubio? His endorsers can’t even name a single accomplishment since he’s been in office! Just watch here. And here.

“Oklahoma knows what it is like to have incompetent elected leaders who put their personal needs before those of the people. As a result, we’ve ended up with Mary Fallin, Todd Lamb, and Scott Pruitt who’ve led us into a billion dollar budget failure, wasted taxpayer money over frivolous lawsuits and personal agendas, and refuse to do the hard work to make improvements. These unqualified Republican candidates will lead the country down the same path that our failed Republican state leadership has right here in Oklahoma,” said Sarah Baker, Communications Director for the Oklahoma Democratic Party.
Voters deserve a closer look at their unqualified Republican options. So the Democratic Party got a hold of their “resumes” to show voters the truth about these amateurs. Check them out here:
Baker emphasized that “President of the United States is not a job you can learn on the fly. From Trump’s bad business deals, to Ted Cruz’s temper tantrum that shut down the federal government and no-show Rubio’s lack of accomplishment, Americans deserve better.”

25 Feb

House Speaker Bars 1.1 Million Oklahomans From Legislative Process, Inman Charges

House Speaker Bars 1.1 Million Oklahomans From Legislative Process, Inman Charges

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 25, 2016) – For the first time in state history, a Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and his leadership team have shut out more than one million Oklahomans from the legislative process.

As the first quarter of the legislative session comes to an end, in an unprecedented act of partisanship, House Republican leaders have refused to allow any legislation authored by a House Democrat to be brought up for a vote on the House floor.

“Not one House Democrat has had a bill placed on the House calendar, much less debated and voted on by the entire House membership,” Minority Leader Scott Inman said. “The people we represent have been deprived of their constitutional right to a voice in the legislative process,” the Del City Democrat said.

The 30 House Democrats and the 1.1 million Oklahomans they represent – Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike – are being “stonewalled,” Inman said. “This is the most partisan Speakership in the 108-year history of this state.”

House Democrats filed 215 bills this year. Of those, 42 have been approved by House committees “and many of those passed unanimously,” Inman said.

The Democrats’ bills have focused on topics such as protecting worker rights, reducing mandates imposed on public schools, assisting victims of domestic violence, increasing the statute of limitations for children who have been victims of crime, granting courts the power to consider post-traumatic stress disorder as a mitigating factor when sentencing a combat veteran convicted of a crime, and enabling victims who prevail in asset forfeiture proceedings to recover attorney fees, court costs and interest.

Yet not one of those 42 measures has been scheduled on the House calendar for a floor vote,” Inman said. “This is unprecedented and unconscionable.” At no time in state history has the majority party completely excluded the minority party – and with the exception of one two-year term, Democrats controlled the House of Representatives from statehood in 1907 until the general election of November 2004, a period of almost a century.

House Democrats have been shut out because, “We are opposed to raising taxes on middle-class Oklahomans while the governor and the Republican leadership refuse to roll back that fiscally irresponsible income-tax cut, refuse to index the gross production tax, and refuse to even discuss accessing federal funds to cover hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans who are uninsured,” Inman said.

Delaying the income-tax cut that went into effect Jan. 1 has bipartisan support in the Legislature, Inman noted, pointing to the Senate Finance Committee’s approval Tuesday of SB 1073 by Sen. Mike Mazzei. “I would much rather delay a tax cut than vote to increase taxes and start new taxes,” the Tulsa Republican said.

At a time when 1 of every 5 Oklahomans has no health insurance, House Republicans passed a bill this week that would throw 111,000 low-income Oklahomans off the state Medicaid rolls. Meanwhile, the Sayre hospital closed its doors Feb. 1, joining seven other hospitals that have filed for bankruptcy since 2010, Inman said. “Virtually all of those people who would be thrown out of the Medicaid program will inevitably wind up in hospital emergency rooms, putting even more pressure on our health-care system.”

The rules of the Legislature decree that March 10 – two weeks from today – is the deadline for House and Senate bills and joint resolutions to be voted on in their house of origin.

The “partisan obstructionism from Republican leaders is particularly troubling,” considering the fact that the Democrats spent the first four weeks of the session working with the governor and the Republican House leadership in “a bipartisan fashion, without rancor,” on issues such as criminal justice reform, Inman said.

It is in that spirit that House Democrats call upon the Speaker and his leaders to “abandon their divisive political strategy and join us in a bipartisan effort to solve the critical issues facing Oklahoma citizens,” Inman said. “Doing so requires them to treat our members, our legislation, and our constituents with the respect and consideration they deserve.”

If the Republican leaders refuse to change their position, “House Democrats will use every available legislative procedure at our disposal to ensure our citizens’ voices are heard,” Inman vowed.

“It is my sincere hope that our Republican colleagues will resume the civility and professionalism that have defined this Speaker and this Legislature the last few years. Facing a $1.3 billion budget hole, a crisis in public education, health care and public safety, the people of Oklahoma demand it and deserve it.

“All we ask for is fairness in the process.”