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Roundup of Oklahoma editorials

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 6, 2015 at 8:45 am •  Published: January 6, 2015
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Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

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The Oklahoman, Jan. 6, 2015

Oklahoma House speaker Jeff Hickman has two big items on his radar

In Oklahoma's weak-governor political system, the position of speaker of the House of Representatives is probably the most powerful at the Capitol. Therefore, it's important that the person in that job sets an agenda designed to produce tangible, productive results for the state.

The current speaker, Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, is suggesting he will. In a guest column included in state Treasurer Ken Miller's most recent monthly economic report, Hickman said one of his goals for the 2015 session is better management of state finances. How? By reviewing tax credits and the many ways incoming revenue is taken "off the top" of the state budget and directed elsewhere.

Hickman noted that the state offers about $1.7 billion in tax credits, incentives and exemptions. While many play an important part in making Oklahoma economically competitive, the speaker said, it may be time to come up with a system to help determine whether a particular incentive is working as designed.

Hickman won't have to look far to find a champion for that cause. Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, has for years been calling for a wholesale review of tax credits and incentives to better determine their merits. Miller, state Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones and state Secretary of Finance and Revenue Preston Doerflinger have all said reviews and better oversight are needed.

"Off the top" earmarking, meanwhile, left lawmakers to appropriate only 44 percent of incoming state revenue last year. Hickman said those earmarks totaled about $3 billion. Most of that revenue goes to road and bridge construction and public schools, but a number of other projects have gotten automatic deposits for years. Should that continue? Hickman says now could be the time to take a closer look.

"Neither tax credits nor dedicated funding constraints are easy issues to tackle," Hickman said, "but if addressed, our state stands to benefit greatly."

Here's hoping the speaker uses some of his muscle to do just that.

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Tulsa World, Jan. 5, 2015

Don't run from the state's 1889 heritage

The Oklahoma City school district is abandoning the tradition of Land Run re-enactments.

Faced with complaints by some American Indian parents and students that the activities are culturally insensitive, other school districts have done the same.

That's too bad. It's throwing away a valuable means of teaching youngsters about an important and colorful part of the state's history. Instead of learning about Oklahoma heritage in an active, fun way that they will never forget, we'll sit them down in the classroom and give them a politically correct lecture. Anyone who thinks that's going to be more effective, raise your hand.

We don't advocate cultural insensitivity. Fully balanced teaching of Oklahoma history must include attention to the wrongs done to the Indian people who called this land their home for eons before white men found their way to North America and those who were transplanted here at gunpoint.

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