Oklahoma Earthquakes Continue Unabated

The 4.2 and 3.6-magnitude earthquakes that shook up central Oklahoma Monday night and Tuesday morning are extremely clear reminders our seismic emergency continues unabated despite action by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

The second earthquake was later determined to be a 3.6.

Fittingly, the earthquakes followed on the heels of the release of a new map created by the U.S. Geological Survey, which displays manmade earthquakes caused by fracking processes for the first time while revealing Oklahoma as one of the most seismically active places in the country.

Here’s that map:

Taken all together, what this means is that Oklahoma has more than just a huge budget crisis as it faces a $1.3 billion shortfall next year. It also has a huge earthquake crisis.

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Where Is The Budget Plan?

Where’s the state budget plan in this historic fiscal crisis we’re facing in Oklahoma? Where are the leaders?

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is reducing services for thousands of people, a bill has passed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives eliminating 111,000 people from receiving Medicaid, and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services is cutting a program that helps families with children who have developmental disabilities.

What will happen to public schools here in a state that has cut education funding the most of any state in the nation since 2008? That’s six long devastating years for public education in Oklahoma, and it’s probably going to get worse unless we vote in favor of the one penny sales tax increase proposal dedicated to learning in November. Do the conservatives in power at the legislature even care? We should absolutely assume at this point they don’t. They have failed us.

We’re currently facing a revenue failure, which means in more simplistic terms we’re broke and can’t pay the bills right now this month, and we’re facing a budget shortfall of $1.3 billion next fiscal year, which begins in July. Our discretionary budget, which is what legislators can allocate, has only hovered around $7 billion for the last few years, one of the smallest state budgets in the country. Do the math. So it’s a $1.3 billion and growing reduction from a tiny $7 billion budget in a state with our population size. The state government is incredibly underfunded as it is.

We’re as broke as you can get, and it’s all because of conservative policies. Conservatives here have cut income taxes to benefit the wealthy, shamelessly handed out massive tax breaks to oil and gas companies, and encouraged a fracking boom gone bust under the “drill, baby, drill” mantra, which has left us with the most earthquakes in the world and no doubt other environmental problems we haven’t even discovered yet.

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Conservative Policy Created State Education Funding Crisis

Note to all Oklahomans: Brace yourself. It’s only going to get worse.

The announcement Wednesday that the Oklahoma City School District is cutting 208 teaching positions because of the fiscal crisis created by conservative legislative policy and a downturn in the oil and gas industry is the beginning of the bad news not an end of it.

Cuts to schools, universities, social services and health programs are only going to get worse not better in the coming months because the state is currently in a revenue failure and faces at least a $1.3 billion budget shortfall for next fiscal year, which begins in July. The state’s discretionary budget in recent years has been around approximately $7 billion, one of the smallest in the nation. Even Wyoming, with a population under 600,000, has a larger discretionary state budget than Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, bankruptcies of oil and gas-related companies and industry layoffs continue unabated as energy prices remain low because of a glut of fossil fuels created by the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, boom here and its mind-boggling and perhaps corrupt mismanagement. How difficult is it, really, to determine supply and demand? A boom always leads to a bust because of basic human greed, and Oklahoma is never prepared for a bust. Never.

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