Oklahomans Stand Against Occupation
All Oklahomans need to get behind a state legislative resolution criticizing the continuing occupation of Iraq and the president’s plan to escalate our involvement by sending more American troops to die in his botched debacle.
The legislation, Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, argues, “the United States government should not escalate its involvement in Iraq and other areas” and “President Bush should obtain explicit approval from Congress before sending more American troops to Iraq and that the United States Congress should pass legislation prohibiting the President from spending taxpayer dollars on an escalation in Iraq unless first gaining congressional approval.”
The resolution is sponsored by state Sen. Connie Johnson (D-Tulsa) and state Rep. Raymond McCarter (D-Marlow), two courageous legislators who run the risk of alienating the state's Bushbots and the neoconservative supporters of our new imperial-presidency form of government.
The bill notes the state’s vested interest in the issue: “Oklahoma is second only to Arkansas in the number of young men and women sent to the Army. Oklahoma contributed 1,296 of the 68,556 recruits signed by the Army in 2006, which represents a rate of more than two per 1,000 Oklahomans aged 15 to 24.”
As the bill argues, “recent polls show that the vast majority of Americans do not support increasing the number of troops in Iraq, and that most military experts, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, oppose escalation in Iraq as a strategy. Legal experts on all sides have determined that Congress has not only broad authority, but a long tradition of limiting escalation or forcing redeployment of troops through the constitutionally designated power of the purse.”
The resolution has little chance of approval because it states the truth and this is the George W. Bush era of The Big Lie, but at least it shows there are forward-thinking people here in this state. Contact your state legislator and tell them you want them to support this important bill. Sign this online petition opposing the escalation and occupation.
Meanwhile, the long, gruesome occupation goes on.
Henry Backs Education Proposals
Gov. Brad Henry’s State of the State Address Monday contained strong support for education. Here are some of the highlights:
“We are capable of doing better. This session, I ask you to support tough legislation to ensure that every Oklahoma teenager completes high school. Let us resolve that within five years Oklahoma will boast the highest high school graduation rate in the entire country.”
And then this:
“We must also work toward producing more college graduates. Fortunately, we're making great strides. College enrollment continues to increase, and the number of our college graduates has risen by more than 20 percent since 2002.
“We need to capitalize on that momentum. One of the best ways to do so is through our Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program. Also known as Oklahoma's Promise, it makes a simple, but profound, pledge to eligible students. If you take a challenging curriculum, make good grades and stay out of trouble, the State of Oklahoma will pay for your college education. Students who participate in Oklahoma's Promise are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college. They are less likely to need remediation and more likely to earn a college degree. “
“Three years ago, we embarked on an ambitious journey to increase teacher pay to at least the regional average. We agreed that no longer would Oklahoma stand by and allow neighboring states to lure away our best and brightest educators. This year we must reaffirm our commitment to our teachers with a pay raise.”
“And our commitment to teachers must be long-term. All of us know the teachers' retirement system has become a gaping budgetary hole that threatens the fiscal stability of our future. Will Rogers once cautioned that when you find yourself in a hole, the first step is to stop digging. Sensible advice. This year, let's begin serious work to shore up the teachers' retirement system and ensure its future viability for Oklahoma educators. “
It’s especially refreshing the governor is focusing attention on the massively unfunded teacher’s retirement system. Action on this issue is needed early in the legislation session. This is a nuts-and-bolts issue that shouldn’t be politicized.