Two things: Call me a (civil) naysayer
As you probably know, last week during her State of the State address, Governor Fallin fixed the state’s budget, provided $178 million in teacher raises (with only $105 million in additional funding for schools), eliminated wasteful tax credits, annexed all of the state’s K-8 school districts, provided vouchers for upper-middle class families to attend private schools that don’t need to be burdened by academic and fiscal accountability, and probably secured the Thunder’s first world championship. It was the best of times.
To all of our surprise, some questioned her methodology. Something about why didn’t you think any of this was important during your first five years when the state’s economy was doing so well that it was the cornerstone of your re-election campaign? Or something like that. House Minority Leader Scott Inman probably said it better (as reported in the Tulsa World):
Inman, D-Del City, said tax increases would require a supermajority in both houses of the Legislature, which is unlikely to happen.
“I don’t think it (a pay raise proposal) is false hope, because I think the teachers of Oklahoma are smart enough to look right through this veiled political attempt to win votes in an election year,” Inman said during his weekly press availability at the Capitol.
The state’s budget problems are the result of a dramatic drop in energy prices, tax cuts and other factors.
When oil was selling at a much higher price and teachers were lobbying for help at Capitol rallies, the GOP-controlled Legislature did not offer a pay raise but instead cut education budgets, Inman said.
“As soon as they lose two Republican seats to Democrats in the House and Senate, they realize that people, regardless of party affiliation, are now frustrated with their fiscal mismanagement of the public schools,” Inman said.
“The election is 10 months away, and now they have all ‘come to Jesus’ on the issue, and they want to at least throw that out there as a potential so they can at least go home this election cycle and say, ‘I know the pay raise didn’t happen, but we tried.’
So, Rep. Inman, are you saying that this is just politics? What an opportunity for opportunists! You know that you’re in the minority, right?
State Senator David Holt, who was out campaigning for Marco Rubio in New Hampshire yesterday (his day job is in session, right?), didn’t like Inman’s comments at all. Over the weekend, he took to Facebook to blast the Democrat’s doubt.
The most cynical thing politicians too often do is pray for our city/state/nation to fail because they think failure would benefit their political party. It’s hard to blame Americans who are sick of these games. Yes, these challenges are hard, which is why we all need to work together to get things done for our state!
That’s the most cynical thing politicians do? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen worse.
I don’t think Inman was praying for anything to fail. I simply think he was using his skill of observation and recalling recent history.
Again, I must be wrong because the governor wasn’t happy that people don’t see the unicorns and rainbows evident in her plan. She told Fox 25 in Oklahoma City that it’ll work, pretty much just because.
“For those naysayers who say you can’t do it, show me your plan,” Fallin said. “My job as Governor is to lead and to put proposals out there. I’m always happy to receive everybody else’s plans. Sometimes people don’t have a plan, they just want to be naysayers. I put out an honest, workable plan for how we can give teacher pay raises—how we can fix structural problems in our budget.”
That’s a long lead-in, but let me go ahead and get to my two things.
- History tells us that the governor and the Legislature won’t find a way to give teacher raises. They haven’t even tried the last five years. Math tells us it’s not possible. We have a $900 million budget shortfall, if we trust the current calculations coming out of the Office of Management and Enterprise Service (OMES). Meanwhile, a barrel of oil is selling for around $30 and a gallon of gas for under $1.20
When a barrel of oil was over $100 and a gallon of gas was around $3.00, restoring state aid to schools to 2008 levels was either not a priority or not possible. Tax cuts were possible. Tax credits were possible. Funding education wasn’t. It’s not that I doubt the governor’s sincerity, or that of the 149 good men and women serving in the Legislature. It’s that I have a reasonably good short-term memory. I won’t believe you mean what you say until you prove you do.
- I hope I’m wrong.