The Downward Spiral Of Print

The news that The Oklahoman is outsourcing its printing operations to the Tulsa World is yet another indication of the demise and eventual death of the hard-copy newspaper.

In fact, the newspaper’s decision NOT to invest in new presses can actually be considered a decent business move by a company that alienates thousands upon thousands of potential customers through its extremist right-wing views on its editorial page and in its news coverage.

Chris Reen, publisher of The Oklahoman and President of The Oklahoman Media Company, announced the new arrangement this week in a rather cryptic statement. The move will result in the elimination of 65 full-time and 65 part-time positions, according to the announcement, and there will be “other manufacturing changes.”

Before I give my first take on the overall announcement, I want to wish anyone losing their jobs or getting their lives disrupted by this all the best.

So here’s my take:

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Democratic Lawmakers Stood Up In Recent Legislative Session

I believe it’s fair to argue that Democratic lawmakers this recently ended legislative session stood up strongly against Republican budgetary malfeasance and showed how the minority party in a deeply red state can be a force in a political arena dominated by ultra conservatives and the failed philosophy of trickle-down economics.

House Minority Leader Scott Inman and Senate Minority Leader John Sparks gave the Republicans a lot of, well, a lot they couldn’t or didn’t want to handle. Here was Inman, for example, on the Republicans back in April:

Their failed political philosophy, which turns on the premise that Oklahoma can somehow cut its way to prosperity or borrow its way out of debt, has given us $1 billion of tax cuts for the wealthiest of Oklahomans.

More importantly, however, is that Democratic lawmakers stood up for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and didn’t back down when some Republicans, including Gov. Mary Fallin, first supported it under the nomenclature of “rebalancing,” but then backed off the idea when it became apparent GOP lawmakers here weren’t going to have anything to do with Obamacare.

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No More Last Minute Budgets

I’m a fierce critic of The Oklahoman editorial page, as anyone who follows this blog knows, but I’m in full agreement with a portion of a commentary in the newspaper Sunday arguing it’s long past time for the state legislature to stop unveiling the budget at the last minute in any given session.

The newspaper doesn’t mince words about it. Here it is:

. . . A rushed product is a flawed product, and Oklahomans shouldn't have to find out what's in the budget after it passes every year. An agreement should be unveiled and scrutinized much earlier, and lawmakers should be prepared to either defend it or amend it.The last-week madness must end.

For the record, I oppose the argument in the editorial about school vouchers, and I’m unsure college consolidation would save the state much money, but I do strongly endorse the last sentence in the above paragraph. It bears repeating: “The last-week madness must end. The last-week madness must end.”

It’s terribly unfair for stakeholders—leaders and employees of state agencies, teachers, health workers, etc.—to have to wait until the last week of a legislative session in May to find out how the state budget for the next fiscal year, which starts in July, will impact them. Operating particular agencies, such as the Department of Human Services, and, say, universities or schools, is complex and requires intense budget planning and decision making. The current system puts everything in a last-minute, panic mode.

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