Chicken-Fried News: Let's get social 


By mid-May, Oklahoma lawmakers were down to two choices: Find a billion dollars’ worth of revenue or pass a budget with significant cuts to state agencies.

What did they do?

Well, they talked a whole lot about that budget. Some in private meetings with oil executives on the conference call line. Some in press conferences. Some in midnight sessions at the Capitol. And nearly all lawmakers addressed the budget situation on social media.

We at Chicken-Fried News couldn’t keep up with the budget chaos during the final days of legislative session. We followed an old adage and watched for budget updates “straight from the horse’s mouth” — you know, lawmakers’ Tweets, Facebook posts and a Snapchat video.

South Oklahoma City Rep. Shane Stone, a Democrat who tweets under @ShaneStone89, posted at 9:05 p.m. May 23: “I anticipate having to vote on a 100+ page budget in <15 minutes, it is still not available for me to see…”

Reminder: The legislative session was slated to end May 25.

Sen. David Holt (@davidfholt), a Republican who represents a portion of northwest Oklahoma City and advocates for transparency in the state budget process, tweeted at 9:41 p.m. May 23, “Never in my seven years [have] I seen anything like this. This is the least transparent budget process I could possibly imagine.”

Later that evening, when the budget bill was finally accessible, Rep. Emily Virgin, a Norman Democrat who tweets as @EmilyVirginOK, wrote, “11:21 p.m.: We now have a budget, but it’s 57 pages long and doesn’t have a summary. So it’s almost impossible to know what’s in it.”

That’s convenient. Hopefully someone recruited a gang of volunteer speed-reading champs to move things along.

Not wasting any time at all, around this same time, a Snapchat video by Choctaw Republican Tess Teague went viral. She shared a video, complete with cartoon filters and an altered voice feature, criticizing the protest group Occupy OKC. During the 40-second clip, Teague accuses the protesters of being paid and clueless to gross production tax. She also said the group used profanities in the hallway near the House Speaker’s office.

Later, Teague took to Facebook to “own a mistake” and let everyone know that she was merely communicating with her personal Snapchat followers, not her constituents.

In the video, Teague said, “Moral of the story, kids, is that if you want a part of the discussion, if you want a seat at the table, know what you’re talking about.”

Whew. Eat that crow while it’s warm; it’s easier to stomach.

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