04 Apr

Senate Democratic Leader Sean Burrage and Caucus Chairman Tom Ivester Comment on Senate Committee Passage of HB 2032

Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

For Immediate Release: April 4, 2013

Senate Democratic Leader Sean Burrage and Caucus Chairman
Tom Ivester Comment on Senate Committee Passage of HB 2032

Senate Democratic Leader Sean Burrage and Caucus Chairman Tom Ivester issued the following comments Thursday in response to the passage of HB 2032 by the Senate Finance Committee earlier in the day.

“Once again, the Oklahoma State Senate is engaged in a process that forces the kind of rushed decision-making that can result in bad policymaking,” said Burrage, D-Claremore. “Our members were informed of this morning’s Finance Committee meeting well after the close of the normal Senate business day. They were handed a much expanded version of the bill with less than 45 minutes to review it before voting on it in committee. No one can be expected to engage in knowledgeable debate or cast a fully informed vote in this kind of environment. And while we are continually bombarded with the message that it’s a ‘work in progress’ and ‘title is off the bill,’ this is not a practice that promotes good policymaking.”

“As to the content of the bill, this is the third tax bill we’ve seen this session,” Burrage continued. “Senate Republican leadership says that the average Oklahoman could save $80 a year with this tax cut. That’s just $1.50 per week. But, when you add it all up, it means millions of dollars that could be used to restore funding cuts to our local schools, give our teachers or our Highway Patrol a raise, fix our roads and bridges, and restore our State Capitol which is literally crumbling around us as we debate these bills.”

“While I understand that tax cuts are an important political talking point for the members of this body, we are seeing political infighting among Republicans in the Senate, Republicans in the House and the Governor’s office affect our ability to make good public policy,” said Ivester, D-Sayre. “We’re being forced to debate political talking points – whether a tax cut should be implemented before or after an important election year in 2014, whether the rate should be at or just below five percent – instead of discussing whether a small tax cut is more important than investing in our schools, paying our teachers and public safety officers appropriately and making sure our State Capitol doesn’t fall down around us any more than it already has. Drama about what is politically expedient is overtaking our ability to do what is best for Oklahoma.”


For more information, contact:
Sen. Burrage: (405) 521-5601
Sen. Ivester: (405) 521-5545

04 Apr

Rep. Mike Reynolds to Privatize State’s Education System

For Immediate Release
April 4, 2013
Contact: Trav Robertson



He Continues Barresi’s War on Education

OKLAHOMA CITY – In reply to a student’s cry for help in affording higher education, Oklahoma State Representative Mike Reynolds emailed all of his fellow legislators, “It is not our job to see that anyone gets an education.” Reynolds continued, “their GPA, ACT…have nothing to do with who is responsible. Their potential to benefit society is irrelevant.

Rep. Reynolds is the principal author of House Bill 1027 which continues Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi’s assault on public education by providing parents a loophole to use taxpayer dollars to pay for their private school tuition.

“As a state we need to support our children by encouraging them to attend college,”  said Oklahoma Democratic Party Vice-Chair and educator Dana Orwig. “According to a recent report released by the State Chamber; our state receives $4.72 for every dollar spent on higher education.”

Coincidentally, on April 1st the Republican-controlled legislature missed the state mandated education budget deadline for the ninth year in a row. The last time it was passed on time was during the Democratic-controlled Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2004.

The Vice Chair concluded, “The Barresi-Reynolds plan to privatize Oklahoma’s education system will crush many schools in our state. At a time when our businesses are facing increasing competition in the global marketplace, I want to know what Barresi thinks about Mike Reynolds’ comments on the the state’s responsibility to provide opportunities for education and if she agrees with him. ”



Oklahoma sees substantial benefits from higher education, State Chamber reports

Republican Representative Mike Reynolds Calls Student’s Potential Irrelevant

House Democrats Urge Legislature to “Fund Ed First”

03 Apr


Below is an email exchange that was a call for help from State Rep. James Lockhart (D) – Heavener who requested help from his colleagues at the Oklahoma State Capitol, but was greeted with an extremely anti-education response from Rep. Mike Reynolds (R) – Oklahoma City.

—–Original Message—–
From: James Lockhart
Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 6:18 PM
To: Mike Reynolds
Subject: Re: Our brightest students…..

No but we sure give out tax credits to a lot of companies that I question whether or not they actually need them. Over 5 billion each year!

What we are seeing is the first generation of Americans who will earn less than the previous, be less educated, earn less and have less access to healthcare.

Basically we are doing a poor job of improving the lives of the people we represent. That is pretty clear in the fact that most people think we either don’t care about them or are unable to do something about improving their standard of living.

I am here to try to improve the quality of life of the average person in however small a way possible.

I would suggest you do the same

James Lockhart

Sent from my iPhone

On Apr 2, 2013, at 6:08 PM, “Mike Reynolds” wrote:

> Rep Lockhart,
> It is not our job to see that anyone gets an education. It is not the responsibility of me, you, or any constituent in my district to pay for his or any other persons education. Their GPA, ACT ASAB, determination have nothing to do with who is responsible. Their potential to benefit society is irrelevant.
> Rep Reynolds
> ________________________________________
> From: James Lockhart
> Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 5:40 PM
> To:; Democratic Legislators; Republican Legislators
> Subject: Our brightest students…..
> Members,
> This is a text I just received. My question is how do we help these people?
> Here is the text message ……
> Hey there… You know that one post on Facebook, about the Oklahoma Promise and students getting financial aid?
> Well, we just found out that Austin also doesn’t qualify for Pell Grants! He filled out the FASFA, and that was the official results. So, he’s got a 4.39 GPA, 32 ACT, 98 ASVAB, loves schooling, wants to pursue a doctored degree… And can’t get any assistance!
> I suppose if none of us tried, and he was just going to school to goof off, he’d be considered “at risk” and get higher education paid for, right?
> James, you know us… We don’t make that kind of money, to pay for him to go to college. He’s gotten only a few scholarships, and those were straight from OU, and they can just write that stuff off, but it’s only a very small portion of the total bill.
> Anyhow, I guess I’m just venting to you because you had posted something about it last week.
> Thanks for listening to me vent.
> Members,
> How do we guarantee that students like Austin, who is clearly very much a top student, get an education?
> These are the ones that will cure cancer, create the next big invention or possibly become a great leader. How do we help these students?
> It’s OUR JOB to see this kid get an education. We want our best and brightest to receive an education that lets them reach their full potential.
> We are failing him.
> Thank you members for listening to me vent!!
> James Lockhart
> Sent from my iPhone

02 Apr

House Democrats Urge Legislature to “Fund Ed First”

State of Oklahoma

House of Representatives


April 2, 2013

For immediate release

Contact: MaryAnn Martin, Ph.D.

(405) 962-7819

House Democrats urge legislature to “Fund Ed First”


OKLAHOMA CITY- House Democrats pressed their colleagues Monday afternoon on the House floor to invest in Oklahoma’s education system by finally passing an education budget and “Fund Ed First.”

In 2003, the legislature mandated the passage of a common education budget by April 1st.

The only time the deadline has been met and education has received their budget by April 1st was by the last Democratic-controlled Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2004.

“The legislature breaks the law and there are no repercussions,” said Rep. Jerry McPeak, D-Warner. “We should be held accountable. I attempted to run a bill this year that would take a day’s salary from representatives and senators for every day after April 1st that they failed to pass an education budget. It wasn’t heard by committee. If we can’t live up to the law, we should have to pay. Our folks at home do.”

“Our schools need this budget by April 1st so they can make staffing decisions for the next academic year,” said Rep. Ed Cannaday, D-Porum. “Yet year after year, the legislature has dragged its feet passing a budget. Would a business owner do that? I don’t think so. We don’t even know what the supplemental budget is from last year. Let’s be responsible and help our schools properly educate our children with the proper funding.”

“Knowing our budget by spring helped me as a school administrator plan for the upcoming year,” said Rep. Curtis McDaniel, D-Smithville. “We talk a lot up here about the uncertainty for business owners due to an uncertain tax code. Imagine planning for a school district, whatever the size, with no sense of your budget for the coming year. We have the power to fix that and we should.”

“House Republicans tried to repeal the ‘Fund Ed First’ statute in committee, and thankfully that didn’t make it to the floor of the House,” said Rep. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City. “As elected officials, as lawmakers, this House cannot blatantly disregard the law.”

“With looming federal cuts underway through Federal Sequestration, now more than ever our timely state investment is needed for providing local school districts the resources they need,” said Rep. Seneca Scott, D-Tulsa. “Teachers and support personnel are some of main winners when we invest in our schools with growing state revenues. Our children will also reap the rewards. However, we all lose when we kick the can down the road.”

Democratic Floor Leader Ben Sherrer of Pryor motioned Monday afternoon to suspend the House Rules in order to comply with state law and pass an education budget, including a $100 million increase to meet the needs of Oklahoma schools.

Sherrer’s motion was defeated by a partisan vote, 27-60.



25 Mar

Oklahoma Women’s History Heroes: Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief
Elizabeth Maria Tallchief
(born January 24, 1925) was the first Native American to become prima ballerina. From 1942 to 1947 she danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, but she is even better known for her time with the New York City Ballet, from its founding in 1947 through 1965. Known professionally as Maria Tallchief, her family called her Betty Marie. Betty learned the Osage traditions from her grandmother, Eliza Bigheart Tallchief. Maria is the sister of notable ballerina Marjorie Tallchief.

She was born in Fairfax, Oklahoma, to Alexander and Ruth Porter Tallchief. Her greatgrandfather, Peter Bigheart, negotiated for the Osages concerning oil revenues that made the Osage Nation wealthy. a father who was a chief in the Osage Nation and a Scots-Irish mother.

Of her childhood she wrote, “I was a good student and fit in at Sacred Heart (Catholic school). But in many ways, I was a typical Indian girl — shy, docile, introverted. I loved being outdoors and spent most of my time wandering around my big front yard, where there was an old swing and a garden. I’d also ramble around the grounds of our summer cottage hunting for arrowheads in the grass. Finding one made me shiver with excitement. Mostly, I longed to be in the pasture, running around where the horses were…”.

She enjoyed music, dancing and ballet. Her desire to pursue a career in the arts was a challenging dream for a Native American child in those days. The family moved to Beverly Hills, California, in 1933, where she was instructed in ballet by Ernest Belcher until she was twelve years old. Then she studied ballet with Bronislava Nijinska for five years. Madame Nijinska’s philosophy of discipline made sense to Tallchief. “When you sleep, sleep like a ballerina. Even on the street waiting for the bus, stand like ballerina.”

Tallchief left Los Angeles at the age of 17 and auditioned in New York City. She joined the [[Ballets Russes|Ballet Russe] and quickly became a featured soloist. After a tour in Canada during 1942, the company asked her to change her name to Maria Tallchieva. She declined to change her Osage name, but agreed to be called Maria Tallchief.

Russian-born choreographer George Balanchine wrote several of his most famous works for her. The two were married on August 16, 1946. The marriage ended in 1952, though they continued to work together as dancer and choreographer. They had no children. She was the first prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet from 1947 to 1960, where Balanchine was the principal choreographer. Her performance of Balanchine’s The Firebird in 1949 and their earlier collaboration at the Paris Opera elevated Maria Tallchief onto the world stage. She also originated the role of the Sugarplum Fairy in Balanchine’s version of The Nutcracker, in 1954.

Tallchief continued to dance with the New York City Ballet and with other groups until her retirement in 1965. She was director of the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet from 1973 to 1979. With her sister Marjorie, she founded the Chicago City Ballet in 1981 and served as its artistic director until 1987. From 1990 to present she has been artistic advisor to Von Heidecke’s Chicago Festival Ballet.

Maria married Elmourza Natirboff on October 4, 1952, but ended the marriage in 1954. She then married Henry “Buzz” Paschen, a Chicago builder, on June 3, 1956. This second marriage lasted until his death in 2003. They had one daughter, Elise Paschen (born 1959), an award-winning poet who served as the Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America from 1988 to 2001, and currently teaches in the writing program at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Maria Tallchief’s younger sister, Marjorie Tallchief, also had a successful career as a ballet dancer and was for several years “première danseuse étoile” of the Paris Opera Ballet. She worked with her sister Maria many times over the years.

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