Conservatives Broke The Great State Of Oklahoma

So the bankruptcies and the layoffs continue in the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma, and what the local corporate power brokers and the GOP state leadership aren’t telling you is that it’s only going to get much worse and it’s going to be devastating for all of us, except the wealthiest here.

It’s an election year, after all, and I sense even a lot of Republican voters are now waking up to the dismal aftermath of the GOP-dominated government that has allowed oil and gas companies to set the political terms and real-life reality for all of us here. The GOP politicians up for reelection want to hide their carnage and lack of leadership as much as possible.

I think, too, about many prominent state self-described “liberals,” who if they’re reading this, are thinking something like, Kurt, Kurt, that’s all hyperbole. You’re a professor. You should know better as a professor than to engage is such vitriolic rhetoric. It’s not that bad. We know best. Just hang on for another 15 or 20 years, Kurt, and we can get this right. Spare me, please. I’m not going to name these people because there’s too much rancor among the left as it is right now, but, please, step aside and let people speak the truth for once.

So, right, it’s going to all work out fine, just like Tulsa’s billionaire George Kaiser is going to get things right here in Oklahoma and just like Aubrey McClendon’s lavish lifestyle made things so great for teachers, state employees, school children, the sick, the vulnerable here.

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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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