Rice Calls Out Fallin

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State Sen. Andrew Rice (D-Oklahoma City) has called out Gov. Mary Fallin for helping to create “this frankenstein” among the far right in Congress that could lead to the country defaulting on its debt.

In a particularly strong statement issued Wednesday, Rice, pictured right, noted Fallin’s recent comments that she was concerned about what would happen in Oklahoma if Congress doesn’t raise the debt-ceiling limit. Fallin was quoted in a Wednesday article in The Oklahoman about the issue. She said, “It would have a huge impact on our state. It would hurt our ability to borrow money. It would hurt municipalities' ability to borrow money. It would raise interest rates.”

According to Rice:

It's odd to see the remarks and concerns by Governor Fallin about the debt ceiling dispute in today's OKLAHOMAN. It was just 18 months ago that then Congresswoman Fallin was proudly waving a yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flag in the balcony of the U.S. House chamber alongside anti-government extremists.

The simplistic, anti-government ideology that Governor Fallin happily supported as a Congresswoman is now a threat to the economic stability she is worried about here in Oklahoma if the federal government defaults on its debt. Gov. Fallin helped created this "frankenstein" among the far right in Congress, and her concerns now from afar are "too little, too late."

Of course, right-wing hypocrisy is nothing new here in Oklahoma, but Rice’s remarks were especially strong and immediate. Just because hypocrisy is a defining element of right-wing extremists, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be pointed out in specific terms. Rice is absolutely correct in his assessment of the issue, and Fallin should take his advice, which includes the need for her to “take personal responsibility” for her role in creating political gridlock. Rice said:

It seems Gov. Fallin is trying to have it both ways. She pandered to the Tea Party for support in her campaign against Randy Brogdon in the Republican primary for Governor in 2010, but now is seemingly going against the tea party stance of "no compromise" on the debt ceiling. Do Oklahomans really think Fallin would be raising these concerns if she were still representing the 5th district in Congress? Who does the Governor stand with: those willing to compromise or the Tea Party?

A good start would be for the Governor to take personal responsibility for her own support of the identical gridlock and red-meat pandering she engaged in during her years in Washington DC, and then earnestly call out Oklahoma's GOP congressional delegation to quit putting the nation's economy at risk with their inflexibility and eagerness to satisfy a small political fringe."

What are the chances Fallin will even partially concede she’s contradicting her previous political positions in her recent remarks about the debt-ceiling issue? It’s seems unlikely, but if she did, we would know that in at least this one instance she was putting the state’s interests above her political career.


Budget Vote Makes For ‘A Sad Day'

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Senate Minority Leader Andrew Rice criticized the state budget agreement Tuesday, arguing it “will do real harm to communities in every region of our state.”

Rice, an Oklahoma City Democrat, also noted there was bipartisan opposition to the budget legislation in the Senate, which passed it on a 26-17 vote. The budget, which was cut by $500 million over last fiscal year, contains steep cuts for education. According to the announced budget agreement, public education will receive a 4.1 percent cut and higher education will receive a 5.8 percent cut.

Rice said, “Instead of eliminating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for special interest groups, they left middle class families to make up the difference with even higher college tuition.”

Here is Rice’s entire statement on the budget:

This is a sad day for Oklahoma. Despite bipartisan opposition to the 2012 budget, the measure was narrowly approved by the Senate on a vote of 26 to 17 on Tuesday. Republicans, who for the first time control both the executive and legislative branches of government, claim they had no choice but to slash the budget by $500 million. These are budgets that had already been cut to the bone in three previous rounds of cuts.

The truth is these cuts didn’t have to happen because there was a choice. Republicans chose to support tax credits for people who send their kids to private schools at the cost of public schools. Instead of eliminating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for special interest groups, they left middle class families to make up the difference with even higher college tuition.

We’re already seeing public schools across Oklahoma overwhelmed with the strain of budget cuts the last two years. This is a budget that will do real harm to communities in every region of our state, and it will make our climb out of this bad economy harder and longer.

Rice’s statement doesn’t even mention the upcoming Jan. 1, 2012 income tax cut that will primarily benefit the state’s top income earners.

Let’s be clear: Republicans here are gutting the state’s educational systems, and it will take years to recover from the damage. Per pupil spending in Oklahoma public schools is already the lowest in the region and one of the lowest in the nation. Republicans argue it’s all about “shared sacrifice,” but lowering funding for a terribly underfunded educational system is a form of cultural and intellectual suicide. It is a sad day for Oklahoma.


Proposed Bill Will Make It Safer For Bicyclists

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State Sen. Andrew Rice wants to make it safer for bicyclists in the state.

Last week, Rice, an Oklahoma City Democrat, announced he plans to introduce legislation next session that will help to protect bicyclists. The idea for the proposed bill was prompted by the recent deaths of Oklahoma bicyclists in accidents, Rice said.

Rice, pictured right, also pointed out that bicycle accidents are on the rise in Oklahoma.

According to Rice:

Our job as legislators is to ensure the public’s safety, and we need to do what we can to keep everyone on Oklahoma’s roads safe, and that includes bicyclists. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature, the Department of Public Safety and others concerned with this issue to see how we can best prevent further accidents and unnecessary deaths.

Rice, the Democratic leader in the Senate, said the bill could be modeled after a recently passed Colorado law, which includes “common sense” rules for bicyclists and drivers.

On his Facebook page, Rice wrote: “As senate staff helps me craft this bill, I look forward to getting public feedback so we can make sure this legislation is fair and effective.” Rice also wrote he would make a draft of the bill public this fall.

Ultimately, the proposed bill would encourage bicycling in Oklahoma. The legislation deserves broad, bipartisan input and support.