Education is a wonderful thing. The United States is one of the few countries where everyone is eligible for an education. High School is not restricted to only the smartest kids – anyone who makes the effort to pass the lower grades can go on to high school and/or college.
State Question 744 will be the first of 11 questions on the November ballot and this is what it is about. Please read all the way to the bottom of this piece.
State Question 744 is a constitutional amendment proposed by the Oklahoma Education Association. It is a forced reallocation of state appropriations from state government services to education.
The amendment requires the Oklahoma Legislature to match the regional average of per pupil spending in states touching Oklahoma's borders. That means legislators in Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado, Missouri and New Mexico will determine each year how much money Oklahoma must spend on common education – public schools through the 12th grade.
When fully implemented in three years, SQ 744 would require Oklahoma to spend approximately $1.2 billion each year on K-12 education. The money will come from massive budget cuts in other state agencies.
SQ 744 prohibits Oklahoma lawmakers from ever spending less than the regional per-pupil average on public schools, even if the state is hit by a devastating budget catastrophe like the one Oklahoma is experiencing now.
SQ 744 is a proposal to amend Oklahoma's Constitution. If approved, it can only be changed by another vote of the people. The Oklahoma Legislature, which cannot change any part of SQ 744, will be forced to follow the requirements of the new law whether the people of Oklahoma like it or not.
However, State Question 744 is supposed to be only about education. Sounds good but it is an "UNFUNDED" bill. That means there is no money for it. Where will the money come from??? From every other state agency! Let me give you an idea of what will happen if this bill is passed.
– Positions at DHS will be eliminated, cutting workers who provide food stamps and health care to the working poor. Child welfare and adult protective services workers will be cut, leaving Oklahoma's most vulnerable citizens unprotected.
– At least $343 million in federal matching dollars for Medicaid to care for seniors, children and other ailing Oklahomans will be lost.
– As many as nine prisons will be closed and 8,400 criminals will be released early.
– The Health Department will lose staff to monitor food safety and nursing home inspections.
– $192 million will be cut from the state's highway budget in the first year SQ 744 becomes law, derailing the repair of thousands of crumbling bridges and deteriorating highways.
– The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will be forced to close treatment beds and outpatient programs.
– Already spiraling tuition hikes will skyrocket, making college unattainable for thousands of Oklahomans.
– Scholarship money for deserving college students will dry up.
These are just a few of the cuts in services SQ 744 will bring. No area of state services and no state program or agency will be spared.
This bill, if passed will amount to a TAX INCREASE because all of our state services will be affected. How else can all of these things I've mentioned be paid for?
How many people do you know who use the Health Department, get food stamps, strive for college scholarships and rely on critical services provided to the citizens of Oklahoma? Since when do we let other states dictate how much money we spend per student in Oklahoma?
Remember, the Government (whether State or Federal) cannot give someone something that they haven't first taken away from someone else. Government has no "product" to make money. The only money they have is ours, our tax money, and it's a proven fact that they are not good stewards of our money.
This bill needs a NO vote. More money does not make a better student. Good parenting and good teaching does.
First of all I would like to thank everyone for the calls and cards encouraging me to keep up my letters to the editor.
I really do appreciate the support. Many of you have asked where my last response was. Well, I’ll tell you. Like most people when discussing politics, when they run out of things to say, they simply try to turn it in to a personal attack on the person they are having the debate with. This is what Marlene and Johnny did with their latest letters.
I could jab back and turn it into a personal fight, but I don’t really know Johnny or Marlene any more than they personally know me, and that would not be the Christian thing for me to do.
The conversation was never about me; it was about issues our country is facing and needing to come together and find common ground for the good of the people, so I will leave it at that.
Now in response to Mark Shoffit from Sunday the 26th. I will respond because he chooses to talk issues. Mark, I have to say I totally agree with you that the Federal Reserve is at the heart of all the financial problems our country faces. However, like most Americans, you are under the impression that the Federal Government owns the Federal Reserve. It’s a common mistake, because that is what the name implies. However, the Federal Reserve, also known as the Fed, is actually a monopoly of 12 Big Banks that are privately owned and run for profit. As a matter of fact they GUARANTEE their shareholders a minimum return of 6% a year. Here is a quote from the Honorable Louis McFadden, Chairman of the House and Banking and Currency Committee in the 1930’s: "Some people think that the Federal Reserve Banks are United States Government institutions. They are private monopolies which prey upon the people of these United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers; foreign and domestic speculators and swindlers; and rich and predatory money lenders."
It is not the Federal Government causing the problem it is privately owned, for profit banks, too big to fail banks that own the Fed. For the first time in 2008 the Treasury sold bonds (debt) to help out the Fed and bail them out. Why? The Fed is supposed to be the “lender of last resort”, they are there to fund banks and the government for funds that can’t be raised though taxes – why would the government bail them out? Here lies the problem. When we the people are loaning money to the Fed through the Treasury, so they can continue to make profits at the expense of our tax dollars, there becomes something very wrong with that. Congress does not have any authority over the Fed, the Fed only reports what it does after the fact and Congress can do nothing except change the Statute. I think they should change the Statute and Nationalize the Fed and then we the people could stop paying interest on our own money!
You say the economy is hundreds of millions of individuals making spontaneous, independent economic decisions about their daily lives. I would agree with that. The problem is, for the last 30 years our government, at the peril of it’s own people have been de-regulating and making Free Trade Agreements and even giving tax credits for taking jobs out of our country. It continues even today at a rapid pace. When there are no more jobs and millions of people have no income to make spontaneous economic decisions, it doesn’t just hurt that person it hurts everyone. If you own a business or provide a service, it should be of great concern to you that jobs have been shipped overseas and that ANY American is out of work. When there is no one left to buy local goods and services our country will fail. Our elected officials need to come together and stop rewarding companies for going overseas and allowing them to import their goods for free while exports are charged a 40% tariff. So do I mind that we finally have a President who is at least trying to work for the people instead of big corporations, no. Do I agree with everything he has done, by no means!! But, do I think we are headed in the right direction, yes. What I don’t understand is when are the low income and middle-income classes in America going to wake up and smell the coffee and start fighting their own fight and stop being so hoodwinked by the rich, that they fight their battles for them. When a country does not have a middle class that is a third world country. The rich corporations have spent a fortune convincing poor and middle class people, that they too can have everything if they just work hard enough. That is a myth. Businesses need employees and no one can have it all by making minimum wage, or even double minimum wage no matter how hard they work or how many hours they put in. What ever happened to the American Dream of owning a modest home, being able to send your kids to school, have a job that pays a living wage, and retiring with a decent nest egg that can see you to your grave? When did the American Dream become more and bigger and better than your neighbor has? We can’t have it both ways – either we are a Christian Nation, where we care about our fellow human beings or we are a greedy, self-centered society of individuals who only care about me, myself and I.
The family of Annie D. Blish wishes to thank all for the care and love they have shown to her and us - Mark McRay and the funeral home staff, Southern Oaks Church of Christ ladies for the lunch, Drs. Linda Johnson and Joe Witten, Keith Neidy and the Liberty Drug staff, Shanoan Springs Residence Skilled Nursing Center staff past and present, Kendall's at Elston's Flowers & Gifts, and nurses and aides on the second floor of Grady Memorial Hospital.
Don and Linnea Gibbs