So another Oklahoma brain drain officially begins.
This is when a lot of teachers and other intellectuals leave the state because they either can’t find jobs here or they’re paid so poorly here they almost have to go elsewhere because other states will pay them much more money.
This brain drain has been brought to you by conservative policies that have led to a current revenue failure and a $1.3 billion budget shortfall for next fiscal year, which begins in July. Teacher and other school positions are getting eliminated in droves and the oil and gas industry layoffs—some of those fired people are highly educated as well—continue. It’s a real disaster.
Here’s how the conservatives created the brain drain:
In recent years, they cut income taxes, cuts that primarily benefited the rich. They also handed out major tax breaks to the oil and gas industry. They encouraged that industry’s reckless production policies through the GOP “drill, baby, drill” mantra, and that has led to a worldwide fossil fuel glut and a decline in gross production tax revenue here. It’s bad times here for a lot of people.
I realize you can go back to the governance of former Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, when it comes to the income tax cuts, but here are the two caveats: (1) Democrat and conservative are not mutually exclusive words in Oklahoma, and (2) Henry’s actions were a compromise with Republicans when the state’s coffers were full many years ago.
The impact of a brain drain cannot be understated. Obviously, it means schools and universities will be stretched thin, and students can expect larger class sizes, and, in some cases, less personal attention. College tuition will go up. But what a brain drain also does is lower the overall quality of life in any given place and create a real leadership vacuum. The leadership pool shrinks, and that trickles down and impacts all sorts of lives.
I’m encouraged that some Democrats, such as House Minority Leader Scott Inman, are calling the conservatives out on their reckless financial policies, but, as I’ve been writing here, it needs to happen on just about a daily basis. If we get anything out of this, then at least let it be that more people wake up to the fact they’re voting against their own interests.
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