Justin Jones’ plea for help went nowhere with the governor’s office.
Jones, head of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, asked for an additional $66.7 million for the next fiscal year to help deal with prison crowding and to try to boost pay for his workers. Gov. Mary Fallin’s proposed budget includes only a $1 million bump for the DOC, and Fallin didn’t devote even a sentence about corrections in her State of the State speech.
Perhaps that’s because she signed a prison reform bill last year. But there’s been little buy-in from the groups involved in making that plan work.
Fallin’s budget chief suggested that Jones is overstating his needs. Few agency heads ever get all the money they ask for, nor do they expect to. But there’s no overstating the fact that our prisons are bumping up against capacity and will continue to do so, creating a dangerous situation for workers and inmates.
Although his colleagues insist he’s an intelligent legislator, House Democratic Leader Scott Inman’s typical method of operation is to act deliberately dense.
This week Inman, D-Del City, noted Gov. Mary Fallin’s proposed tax cut would reduce annual state revenue by more than $100 million and that only an additional $170 million is available this budget year. When you throw in the spending increases endorsed by the governor, Inman insisted, “We simply don’t see how the math adds up.”
Here’s how: The tax cut affects only half the fiscal — not calendar — year, reducing revenue by $40.7 million for the budget year and leaving $129 million for increases.
House Democrats could make a serious argument against Fallin’s tax cut. Instead, Inman pretends he doesn’t know the difference between the calendar and fiscal years. House Democrats want to regain legislative clout. They won’t get it the way Inman is going about it.
Gov. Mary Fallin’s latest State of the State speech ran 4,750 words and took 50 minutes to deliver, including applause. In comparison, President Barack Obama’s second inaugural speech was 2,095 words.
Obviously, we found far more to like in Fallin’s speech than Obama’s, but would note that brevity and clarity are virtues in public speaking.
President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is around 250 words. The Declaration of Independence is roughly 1,300. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech is about 1,650 words. Even Winston Churchill’s stirring “we shall fight on the beaches” speech in 1940 was shorter than Fallin’s — approximately 3,950 words.
Audience members can hear the best speeches just once and quote specific lines by memory, while other speeches are remembered not for what was said, but for the feeling of audience relief when they finally concluded.
Strunk & White’s famous composition advice also applies to speeches: Omit needless words.
Complaints by lawmakers about release of water from Canton Lake remind us of disgruntled heirs carping over an aging parent spending their inheritance.
Oklahoma City is exercising its legal right to take water from Canton to replenish local lakes drawn down by lack of rain. This is a bridge too far for Canton Lake and northwest Oklahoma partisans — just as the city’s use of southeast Oklahoma water has been.
“Where is their water conservation plan?” asked state Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher. He blamed the Canton transfer on a planning failure. Actually, it’s a routine move to rebuild levels at Lake Hefner after months of below-normal rainfall. Oklahoma City waited to make the change until Hefner got quite low and even delayed the transfer until a recent rain made the North Canadian riverbed more suitable for a transfer. That in itself is a conservation plan.
Conflicts over water between urban and nonurban areas are age-old, but the law is clearly on Oklahoma City’s side. Just as it’s everyone’s right to spend money instead of saving it for another’s inheritance, the city is doing what’s in the best interest of the people who pay local water bills and who must adopt their own conservation plans to save money and to obey rationing restrictions whenever they’re imposed.
Meantime, billions of gallons of water have been flowing into the Red River because the state lacks the political will to turn this wasted treasure into cash by selling the water to urban areas in North Texas.
States are considered laboratories of democracy because state policies can become the basis for future federal policies. Thanks to overwhelming one-party rule in many states, Republican and Democrats now have the chance to test-drive very different policy approaches.
Stateline.org notes that 166 million people live in the 25 states where Republicans have full control, while 93 million live in 13 states where Democrats hold sway. In 22 states, including Oklahoma, one party has a veto-proof majority in both chambers. The competition between those states will be instructive.
While states like Oklahoma consider tax cuts, states such as Minnesota are looking at tax increases. Blue states are pushing gun control; red states are seeking to expand gun rights. On these and many other issues, states’ differing policies will offer a stark contrast, and the results will influence the advancement of conservative or liberal governing philosophies at the federal level.
Well, that didn’t last long.
This week President Barack Obama announced he was disbanding his jobs council. Obama formed the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness — a group of businessmen and women from across the country — in January 2011, shortly after Democrats got hammered in midterm congressional elections.
The council ostensibly was aimed at coming up with ways to improve the economy. But the president met just four times with the group during its two-year run, and not at all after February of last year.
Unemployment was above 9 percent when the council formed. Now it’s at 7.9 percent, with more than 12 million still out of work. Administration officials say Obama will continue to seek input from business leaders about how to help the economy. But many have already told him that new and stricter federal regulations are a huge problem. How’s that worked out for them?