FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 26, 2015
A Smoke and Mirrors Strategy From Oklahoma Republican Leaders
[February 26, 2015 – OKLAHOMA CITY, OK] Oklahomans demand action be taken on key issues while Governor Fallin and the Republican-led legislature continue to show a lack of leadership and refusal to look down the road to what is coming.
“Governor Fallin continues to talk about an increase in funding for public education but that seems to be just more smoke and mirrors from her administration as the legislature seems unified that that is almost certainly not possible this year or next,” says Wallace Collins, Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.
In 2012, Fallin touted the “success we have enjoyed [by] enacting pro-growth policies like those championed by ALEC” would be able to increase state revenues all while eliminating the state income tax and providing tax breaks to large campaign donors. Despite warnings from State Treasurer Ken Miller, she failed to demand fiscal responsibility from the 54th Oklahoma Legislature and now with the bottom out of the oil market, the estimated deficit hole more than doubled from $297 million to a now certified $611 million shortfall.
Seemingly undeterred by the current financial crisis facing Oklahoma, Governor Fallin refuses to rescind or even scale back these goals of eliminating the state income tax or tax cuts that helped only the wealthy in Oklahoma. Instead, she wants state agencies – particularly those that serve Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens – to prepare for additional cuts in funding. Again, an increase in funding for public education becomes more and more like a dream rather than reality.
Oklahoma currently leads the nation in the largest cuts to public education at a whopping 24% since before Bush’s Great Recession, no pay teacher pay raises since 2008, and a teacher shortage of epic proportions.
Sadly, Oklahoma also leads the nation in the number of murders in prison, a sign that no one is safe in our prisons, not even prison guards. Our state prisons are facing dangerous conditions that, like public education, don’t see any hope for relief in the near future. Prison guards are overworked, forced to work 16-hour shifts, and barely make more than $12 per hour. Prisons are understaffed by as much as 40% and we refuse to increase pay and benefits in order to attract new employees or even retain existing ones.
Collins emphasizes that, “The Republican leadership at our State Capitol has allowed the legislature to distract us with issues that should never have received widespread attention in the first place. Instead of dealing with real problems and answering the cries of working Oklahomans, we are fighting over AP History classes and conversion therapy. Governor Fallin’s answer to the myriad of problems we face? More smoke and mirrors! Maybe no one will notice our crumbling state.”
About the Oklahoma Democratic Party
The mission of the Oklahoma Democratic Party is to represent the working people of Oklahoma and the best way to do that is to elect Democrats to all areas of government. Oklahoma Democrats are progressive and sensible. We are optimistic about the future, and we are determined to see Oklahoma’s traditional values upheld. More information about the Oklahoma Democratic Party can be found at www.okdemocrats.org or by calling (405) 427-3366.