• HUD scheme part of Obama's vision of big-government rule

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Tue, Jun 23, 2015

    The black population in Marin County, Calif., is less than 3 percent of the total. The median home value is $781,900, compared with $366,400 for the state as a whole. The median household income in Marin County is $90,839 ($61,094 for the state). The county would thus seem to be a prime area for the Obama administration’s latest reach for utopia. The Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to help end neighborhood segregation by funding “affordable” housing in affluent communities. Call it the Big Rock Candy Condominiums. That’s a reference to the Depression-era fantasy about the poor finding an Eden replete with lemonade springs and streams of alcohol trickling down rocks.

  • Altruism not evident in carbon tax endorsement

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Mon, Jun 22, 2015

    ON these pages, we’ve consistently taken pro-business and pro-energy stances. This is because we believe free-market forces ultimately generate prosperity for the greatest number of people in the most efficient manner. But we’re not blind to the fact that, individually, business officials can pursue narrow self-interests in short-sighted ways. This includes promoting government policies whose broad effect is decidedly negative. Such appears to be the case with the recent decision of officials at several international oil companies to endorse a carbon tax, supposedly to combat global warming. Don’t let the public relations spin fool you: That action is primarily about destroying a competing energy source’s market share

  • Supreme Court's car tag decision raises concerns about speech

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Mon, Jun 22, 2015

    A new U.S. Supreme Court ruling declares specialized license plates are a form of government speech. That may make life easier for state officials dealing with potentially controversial license requests, but it also appears to dilute individuals’ free-speech rights, as several justices noted in dissent. The Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans sought a special plate featuring a Confederate battle flag. A Texas state board denied the request, saying the message would be controversial and offensive to many citizens. To defend the rejection, the attorney general of Texas argued that specialty plates represent the words and views of the state, not an individual.

  • Oklahoma flooding highlights need to attend to smaller dams

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Mon, Jun 22, 2015

    DAM safety is a key component of overall public safety. It can’t be taken for granted, and dam safety measures could be better funded in Oklahoma. As the state’s dams continue to age, overseeing their integrity is more critical than ever. The above is a paraphrase of what we wrote last July, when the problem was the weakening of dams due to prolonged drought. The concern was that these weakened conditions would manifest into public safety concerns when the rains came again. And come they did. The state has experienced one of the wettest springs on record. Dams that were taken for granted during the drought are no longer ignored. Their function to control flooding is made manifest with swelling water levels. The threat to

  • Oklahoma state budget far larger than what's appropriated

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 21, 2015

    THE state-appropriated budget approved by lawmakers this year totaled $7.1 billion. That’s quite a sum, and interest groups often loudly insist they should get a larger slice of that particular pie. Here’s the problem: That figure represents only a fraction of total state government spending in Oklahoma. The real total is at least $24 billion after accounting for funds reaped outside the legislative budget process. Critics believe the gap between those two figures, and the disproportionate attention given to the smaller figure directly set by lawmakers, has distorted budget discussions at the Oklahoma Capitol for years. But a new transparency effort could shift that dynamic.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: For mentally ill, a better way?

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jun 20, 2015

    MIKE Brose, an advocate for the mentally ill in Oklahoma, asked a good question recently about how the mentally ill are affected by the lack of treatment options available in the state. “My standard rhetorical question is, would it be OK if somebody in a diabetic coma or some sort of medical crisis always had to be transported across the state?” Brose said. The answer, of course, is no. Yet the practice is routine for those suffering from mental illness when they encounter law enforcement. Because medical assistance isn’t widely available, police departments spend considerable time and money each year driving men and women to treatment facilities elsewhere once those people have been arrested following a trouble call.

  • No easy choices when trimming Oklahoma DHS budget

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jun 19, 2015

    HOW would you like to be Ed Lake, director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, and have to figure out where to make cuts to an agency that’s charged with tasks ranging from caring for abused and neglected children to issuing food stamps to helping feed the state’s elderly? It’s a no-win situation of the first order, and Lake is living it. He announced recently that DHS plans to add about 300 child welfare workers but also do away with roughly 200 positions elsewhere in the agency. Lake’s budget for the new fiscal year beginning July 1 will include less money for programs that aid the elderly and the mentally disabled, among other things. “How sad is that?” said Mary Brinkley, who heads an elderly

  • ‘Late’ start not likely to hurt Jeb Bush’s presidential chances

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Thu, Jun 18, 2015

    IT says a little something about the state of American politics that announcing your candidacy for president eight months before the first primary can be viewed as potentially a little late. On Tuesday, the day after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced he would seek the Republican nomination, the Page 1 headline in USA Today read, “Time may have cost Bush luster.” The story noted that by waiting until mid-June to of‌ficially declare, Bush has added himself to an already crowded field of GOP candidates. In addition, the “long delay has left him scrambling to maintain control even of his own state.” That’s a reference to U.S. Sen.

  • Smart meter 'opt outs' best handled by market

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Thu, Jun 18, 2015

    THOSE who wanted to “opt out” of utility smart meters may be learning an old lesson: Be careful what you wish, because you just might get it. Of‌ficials with Public Service Co. of Oklahoma have announced that customers who prefer to keep old meters, which have to be manually checked by a meter reader, can do so. But the company will charge a $28 monthly fee, as well as a one-time fee of $183 for replacing the existing meter. PSO serves around 540,000 customers and is in the process of installing smart meters across its system to track consumption levels and transmit information without employing an army of meter readers.

  • State has seen stories similar to that of senator

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jun 17, 2015

    Rick Brinkley's tale continues to unfold.

  • Policymakers should revisit certificate of need programs

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jun 17, 2015

    Certificate of need programs prohibit health care providers from entering new markets or expanding facilities without first receiving the blessing of state regulators.

  • Revision of some liquor laws is long overdue in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jun 16, 2015

    Nine years ago last month, Oklahoma became the 50th and final state to legalize tattoo parlors. Legislative approval of the parlor ban came just in time for artists to take advantage of the gentrification of tattoos.

  • On trade bill, Obama's hubris hurt his cause

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Mon, Jun 15, 2015

    Obama has spent his six years in the White House looking down his nose at Congress, acting as if only he has every right answer. So on Friday, when Obama went to the Capitol to try to sway members to vote for his trade bill, they made it clear they weren’t interested.

  • Oklahoma school budget claims don't match reality

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jun 15, 2015

    LIKE many Oklahomans, we believe additional funding, if prudently targeted, could make a difference in public schools. We don’t believe state funding should be increased simply to allow districts with declining enrollment to continue operating as though nothing has changed in decades, which seems to be an argument put forth recently by state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. This year state lawmakers protected K-12 funding from any cuts, despite facing a $611 million shortfall. Given the circumstances, that’s a win for schools. Yet in an interview with Oklahoma Watch, Hofmeister says the flat budget will force school closures and teacher layoffs. Her examples don’t back up that claim.

  • Several years later, Oklahoma Capitol repair work starting early

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jun 15, 2015

    RENOVATION work on the Oklahoma Capitol will begin in July, several months earlier than expected. Too bad it didn’t begin several years earlier, instead. For the longest time, the need to repair the Capitol was evident to the lawmakers who call the building their office for several months each year, and to the thousands of visitors who annually pass through the building. Any building that stands for nearly 100 years, as the Capitol has, is going to need pretty good scrubbing once in a while. Yet as plumbing deteriorated, and heating and cooling issues arose, and elevators went on the fritz, and water began leaking into parts of the building, lawmakers did little.

  • Oklahoma DOC director encouraged by tenor of conversation

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 14, 2015

    FOURTEEN months on the job as director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Robert Patton feels pretty good about things. That’s not to say the DOC doesn’t continue to face significant immediate and long-term challenges, because it does. But Patton says there is reason to be encouraged. In particular he points to the reception he and staff received from the Legislature this year. After DOC received a flat budget a year ago, lawmakers appropriated $14 million more for the fiscal year that begins July 1. And, they passed some bills sought by the agency, including a few that have the potential to ease the burden on the system in the coming years. “Corrections was on everybody’s mind during the session,” Patton

  • Impact of Obamacare subsidy decision could be positive in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 14, 2015

    THE U.S. Supreme Court will soon rule on a case challenging Obamacare insurance subsidies in states with federal exchanges, including Oklahoma. President Barack Obama says this challenge’s success would be devastating for many Americans. A greater concern should be that elimination of subsidies would dramatically highlight how the Affordable Care Act has made insurance far less affordable. Under Obamacare, citizens not on Medicaid and not covered by employer insurance can buy coverage through a state exchange. Officials in Oklahoma didn’t build a state exchange, instead relying on one operated by the federal government (as did 36 other states). Based on income, individuals can get subsidized coverage through those

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Better days ahead for OKC's First National Center

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jun 13, 2015

    OKLAHOMA City’s grand old First National Center has struggled since the failure of First National Bank in 1985. That was followed years later by the departure of its successor institution, Boatman’s Bank. In 2010, the building went into foreclosure. But news this week offers reason to be encouraged about the future of the 33-story art deco building, which opened in 1931. The Oklahoman’s Steve Lackmeyer reported that a California developer is buying the building and plans to transform it into a mix of offices, retail, upscale apartments and a hotel. Stephen Goodman told Lackmeyer he is set to close the $23 million purchase by early August. Redevelopment would begin within a year, at a cost estimated at $140 million.

  • Slow uptick in unvaccinated Oklahoma children is cause for concern

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jun 12, 2015

    THE number of unvaccinated Oklahoma kindergartners on the first day of the 2014-15 school year was miniscule. But it was larger than the previous year, and about three times larger than a decade ago. That’s a concern. The fact is that childhood vaccinations save lives, which is why states such as Oklahoma mandate that children receive their vaccinations before starting kindergarten, unless an exception is granted for medical, religious or other reasons. Yet another fact is that some parents don’t see the benefit in having their child immunized. An example is Angie Hepp, a registered nurse in Claremore who was quoted Sunday by The Oklahoman’s Jaclyn Cosgrove in a story about the increase in parents opting out of having

  • 2015 shaping up to be a good year for school choice

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jun 12, 2015

    Oklahoma is part of the story