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Brake dancing with facts
Mike Brake (Letters to the editor, “Big, bloated government,” July 3, Oklahoma Gazette) wails about government waste, but given complete Republican control of state government, why was vital education funding slashed 20.6 percent between 2008-2013 while the pork goes untouched? Why are Oklahomans being slammed with a 50-percent tax increase to renew their drivers’ licenses?
State employees, including the corrections officers and state troopers who protect us, haven’t received a pay raise since 2006, but our country-club Republicans allocated $7 million to needlessly remodel Capitol legislative offices, including a conference room “complete with a catering area and offices.”
We incarcerate over 26,000 people (27 percent for drug offenses), costing hundreds of millions and leaving 27,000 children without at least one parent, but former Oklahoman editorial page editor Pat McGuigan says prison reform is being “deliberately gutted” by the governor, who “wants to kill” the 2012 Justice Reinvestment Initiative. Our loopy Texas neighbors, no sissies on crime, lead the nation in lowering incarceration rates and prison costs.
Brake grumbles about higher education, but the State Chamber concludes our public colleges and universities have an estimated return on investment of $4.72 for every $1 of tax funding, so why has state funding gone from 38.6 percent of the University of Oklahoma’s budget in 1986 to 11.3 percent in 2012 under Republicans?
Associated Press says Gov. Mary Fallin’s initial tax cut will save taxpayers an average of $80 a year, a lousy $6.66 a month. Is the foul stench of excrement in the Capitol the GOP’s legislative bowel movements, or is it the devil’s breath from the portal to hell opened by the 666 tax cut? And do we really need to spend $120 million to gold-plate our dilapidated Capitol shack into the Taj Mahal? A Capitol framed by yellow crime scene tape is pretty hilarious.
The vote that exempts all intangible personal property will reduce revenues $72-$107 million; gross production taxes fell $209 million because of a recent tax cut, and state Department of Human Resources reforms will cost an extra $100 million a year. We can’t afford to lose another $237 million.
We would have to increase state and local spending $6.6 billion to reach the national per capita average, $9.2 billion more to match New Mexico, Colorado $5.8 billion more, Kansas $3.7 billion, Texas $540 million and Missouri $160 million. Where’s the beef?
—DW Tiffee Norman
In “Darts at arts” (News, Molly Evans, July 10, Gazette), we were told, “Every dollar of public funding generates about $8 in tax revenue for Oklahoma, according to [Oklahoma Arts Council].”
I wrote to Amber Sharples, OAC executive director, and asked what study or report backs up that statistic. She didn’t reply, so I suspect it is one of those things “everyone knows” for which there is no proof.
—Carl Hall Edmond
Editor’s note: The statistic comes from a 2008 Oklahoma economic impact study conducted by Americans for the Arts in collaboration with OAC. The full study is available at arts.ok.gov.
For the unauthorized
I often hear “fairness” and “rule of law” invoked by opponents of immigrationreform measures that would normalize the status of unauthorized immigrants within the U.S.
The argument is that people who have not respected our immigration laws should not be rewarded with normalization, that it is not fair to potential immigrants who are waiting in line and that this kind of measure would undermine the rule of law.
It is a simple, attractive argument. It is also dead wrong.
There are 40.4 million immigrants in the U.S. Most are economic immigrants, leaving a morass of poverty and corruption in search of better futures.
Where opportunity and enterprise are squelched by the unfair playing field of weak rule of law, the opportunistic and enterprising find the greener pastures where rule of law is strong and respected. This is the fundamental story of a great number of the immigrants in the U.S. It is surely the story of virtually all 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants.
There is a place in this country for these 11.1 million. They are working, paying rent, buying consumer goods and, yes, paying taxes. According to the Social Security Administration, three quarters of unauthorized immigrants pay into Social Security, although they will never reap a penny of benefit.
If anti-immigration groups could wave a magic wand and deport all 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants, the economic effects to our country would put us back into recession. There would be huge labor shortages, driving up prices and inflation. Entire blue-collar neighborhoods would be ghost towns.
Current immigration law does not reflect the reality of unauthorized immigration in the U.S. This unfairness weakens American rule of law. It is time to make a correction that includes normalization of those who are already part of our communities.
It is the only fair thing to do.
—Jake Fisher Oklahoma City
The highly influential singer-songwriter and Oklahoma City native John “J.J.” Cale died July 26, at age 74, at a La Jolla, Calif., hospital after a heart attack. If you’re an Oklahoma Gazette reader unfamiliar with the name J.J. Cale, do your soul a solid favor and learn about this man and his music.
—Ivan Smason Santa Monica, Ca.
A dangerous farm bill
We were dismayed to learn that the U.S. House farm bill has a section authored by Iowa Congressman Steve King that would erase state laws regarding to agriculture. In other words, vital laws that protect our food safety, the environment, and animal welfare would go out the window if this language makes it into the final version.
As an example, numerous states have passed laws protecting mother dogs trapped inside puppy mills, yet this would be repealed by King’s amendment.
Thankfully, the Senate doesn’t have this dangerous language in its version of the farm bill. Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, who is likely to be in the bill’s conference committee, must work to ensure that King’s language doesn’t make it into the final bill when the House and Senate combine wording.
As compassionate Oklahomans, let’s encourage him to do the right thing by urging him to oppose King’s amendment to the 2013 farm bill.
—Bob Ingersoll & Katelynn Stepien Norman
A July 24 story, ”Kidnapped! The legends of ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly and J. Edgar Hoover stemmed from Oklahoma City,” misidentified the late Charles Urschel in a photograph. Oklahoma Gazette regrets the error.