• Government played little role in U.S. third-quarter growth

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jan 6, 2015

    THE U.S. economy’s third-quarter growth hit 5 percent, the best rate in 11 years. The question now is whether government action played any role. For conservatives, the improved economic outlook vindicates those who’ve tried to rein in federal spending. Stephen Moore, chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, makes a solid case for the economic benefits of restrained federal spending. Moore notes that the federal outlay, expressed as a share of gross domestic product, has declined significantly. In 2009, federal spending equaled 24.4 percent of GDP. By 2014, it represented just 21 percent. A recent estimate suggests it fell below 20 percent in the final quarter of 2014.

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

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Mon, Jan 5, 2015

    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

  • OKC urban renewal proposal is proper

    The Oklahoman editorial | Published: Mon, Jan 5, 2015

    “THAT is not OK.” With the passion of a preacher, Ward 7 Oklahoma City Councilman John Pettis appealed to the better angels of fellow council members, urging creation of a new urban renewal zone. The rub on urban renewal programs for years is that they’ve devastated minority communities in city after city. Yet here was the council’s sole black member with an impassioned appeal for urban renewal. And here were the council’s most liberal members, led by Ward 2’s Ed Shadid, opposing the idea. Pettis’ argument won the day. Shadid limped out of Tuesday’s debate as one of two no votes, versus the seven that approved Northeast Renaissance Urban Renewal District.

  • Reality undermines arguments to expand Medicaid

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jan 4, 2015

    EXPANSION of Medicaid under Obamacare is touted by proponents as a pain-free way to increase insurance coverage while “growing” the economy through an infusion of federal dollars. But real-world implementation continues to indicate that Oklahoma could pay a high price for expansion and that expansion’s alleged benefits are overstated. The appeal of Medicaid expansion is that the federal government would pay all expansion costs during the first few years, and then purportedly pay 90 percent of expenses thereafter. But the state portion of the tab isn’t insignificant.

  • Free speech OK for some, not others on college campuses

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jan 4, 2015

    NOTED constitutional attorney Alan Dershowitz calls himself a liberal Democrat, but he has no time for some of the behavior coming from his ideological brethren on college campuses. Writing last week on the conservative website Newsmax, Dershowitz noted how students at Brandeis University were coming to the defense of a fellow student whose incendiary, offensive public tweets about police and the United States had been posted on a website by another Brandeis student. On the day two New York City police officers were assassinated, Khadijah Lynch tweeted that she had no sympathy. “IMAO, all I just really don’t have sympathy for the cops who were shot. I hate this racist (expletive deleted) country,” she wrote.

  • ScissorTales: Nervousness, hysteria contributed to OKC drilling decision

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jan 3, 2015

    A recent decision not to drill for oil near Lake Hef-ner put a different spin on the usual “not in my back yard” protest. Instead, cries of “not near my drinking water” carried the day. Oklahoma City-based Pedestal Oil Co. Inc. had hoped to drill a handful of wells on the south end of Lake Hefner, one of the city’s chief water supplies. When Pedestal first proposed the idea a few years ago, the city met with a group of nearby residents and recreational users. This time around, hundreds of people turned out to speak against the idea. The difference? One might be that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has been unfairly demonized in many areas of the country. Many of those at the Dec.

  • Report highlights Oklahoma's teacher challenges

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jan 2, 2015

    OFFICIALS have warned that Oklahoma faces a teacher shortage since many schools struggle to fill all positions with qualified individuals. Now a report from the National Council on Teacher Quality highlights another problem: Many Oklahoma teachers are entering the profession insufficiently prepared. In its 2014 State Teacher Policy Yearbook, the council “casts a critical eye” on whether state requirements for teacher preparation and licensure ensure educators are ready to teach to college- and career-readiness standards. The council gave Oklahoma a C. The report finds Oklahoma’s system is especially weak at producing qualified special education teachers, math teachers in elementary schools, and middle school teachers.

  • Change in Colorado pot law impacts behavior

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jan 2, 2015

    According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number of Colorado residents using marijuana has increased significantly. We know: surprise, surprise. Still, as we’ve noted in other contexts, most citizens are law-abiding, which means they typically obey laws even when they don’t agree with them. This is proving true in Colorado. Marijuana decriminalization has led many people to use the drug who previously abstained. It’s hard to see how this is a positive development. According to the survey, about one in eight Colorado residents over the age of 12 reported using marijuana in the previous month. That was a higher percentage than all but one state. In 2011 and 2012, the survey found 10.

  • Gas prices stimulate sales of bigger vehicles

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jan 2, 2015

    A money thing happened on the way to selling more cars that get good gas mileage and to making more electricity with clean and green nuclear energy. What happened is a North American energy boom that’s flooded the continent with oil and gas supplies and factored into a dramatic decline in crude prices and gasoline prices. The latter is responsible for the latest consumer resistance to buying more fuel-efficient automobiles. With gas this cheap, why not get that monster pickup? The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. consumers are again favoring SUVs and trucks, which made up 52 percent of vehicles sold in October, compared with 44 percent in the comparable month of 2008.

  • Some of our wishes for 2015

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jan 1, 2015

    HARD to believe, but another year has come and gone. In this time of new beginnings and optimism, The Oklahoman’s editorial board will eschew the new year’s resolution thing and instead offer a list of the wishes we have for 2015. If some of them sound familiar, it’s because they echo expressions of hope made in previous editorials — including the one that ran on this page a year ago today. We’re reminded that even in an age of lightning-fast communications and instant messaging, some debates take years to settle and some issues languish until a critical point is reached. Still, in the spirit of fresh starts, open minds and welcoming hearts, we present our annual list of things we’d like to see happen this

  • Words did not directly lead to police officers' killings

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Dec 31, 2014

    CONSERVATIVES have for years defended their rhetoric against sticks-and-stones hurling by liberals claiming that a right-winger’s words not only hurt but can kill. Now that liberals are in the same cross hairs, perhaps it’s time to restate the obvious: Words don’t kill people. People kill people. After consoling the families of victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, President Bill Clinton hinted in an interview that Timothy McVeigh’s deadly attack was somehow linked to conservative talk radio. When U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, R-Ariz., was gunned down in suburban Tucson in 2011, tea party “hate speech” was linked to a crime that nearly killed Giffords and took the lives of six others.

  • The first lady's disappointing story revision

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Dec 30, 2014

    MICHELLE Obama’s tale of a shopping trip she made in September 2011 is still generating some head scratching. In 2012 on national television, she was laughing about going almost unnoticed during the trip to Target. Months later, with some time to think about it, the first lady has told People magazine that she was perhaps the target of some mild bigotry. Her first version of the story, told to late-night host David Letterman, was probably the most accurate. To recap, most believe she made the trip to show the world that the Obamas were just average folks. After all, there was an election around the corner in 2012. She didn’t enter the Target with all the trappings of first lady. Photographs of the trip show her dressed

  • U.S. Rep. Mullin's approach about business in Washington is a good one

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Dec 30, 2014

    AFTER he was first elected to Congress in 2012, U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin found one of his biggest challenges was to accept that progress in government occurs far more slowly than in the private sector. “It took me until February of my first year in to learn how to breathe, take a deep breath and start realizing this is a long fight,” Mullin, R-Westville, told The Oklahoman’s editorial board. “This isn’t a short-term fight. This is a long fight.” Mullin said modest gains achieved incrementally lead to major victories in time. That’s a point worth stressing: For Republicans to truly change the course of the federal government, lawmakers and their constituents must accept that incremental improvement represents a

  • Look for tax-cutting wave to continue across the country

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Dec 29, 2014

    EIGHTEEN states cut taxes in 2013. Fourteen states, including Oklahoma, did so this year. Thus, 32 states have done in the past two years what the federal government seems incapable of doing — restructuring a tax system. Tax-cutting is clearly a bipartisan priority at the state level. This isn’t a red state phenomenon. Can you guess which state won the 2014 Outstanding Achievement in State Tax Reform award from the Tax Foundation? It was New York, long considered a bastion of high taxes. The Empire State enacted substantial corporate tax reform to help offset its business-unfriendly image. Jared Meyer of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research says New York’s corporate tax rate will be at its lowest level

  • OCAST has been a shining example of success for Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Dec 28, 2014

    OKLAHOMA lawmakers and policymakers are increasingly on the lookout for taxpayer-funded programs or entities that aren’t measuring up. This is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. Equally important is to identify those that work well, and to ensure that they’re adequately supported. The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology fits into the latter category. OCAST has been a shining example since its creation by the Legislature during the economic crisis of the 1980s. The idea at the time was that OCAST might help ease future financial tough times via investments in research and technology. OCAST has been an overwhelming success: In its 27 years, the agency has helped to fund more than 2,500 science and

  • Oklahoma could learn from N.M. spaceport effort

    The Oklahoman editorial | Published: Sun, Dec 28, 2014

    WE recently noted that the crash of a Virgin Galactic rocket shop would have negative impact on commercial space ventures in the United States, providing another reason for Oklahoma lawmakers to rethink state funding of a local “spaceport.” Developments in New Mexico buttress those arguments. Oklahoma’s efforts at attracting commercial space operators have been ongoing since the 1999 creation of the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority. The idea was to turn an abandoned air strip near Burns Flat into a launch site for private space ventures. Since then, lawmakers have provided millions in tax credits to one failed company, and have cumulatively spent millions on the authority. Those efforts have yet to bear

  • ScissorTales: Magazine salutes Oklahoma City as 'Pride of the Plains'

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Dec 27, 2014

    REMEMBER the “staycation”? That portmanteau combining “stay” and “vacation” was a recession-era trend to save money by seeing the sights within an easy drive of your home. It was also a valuable tool for conserving vacation dollars when gasoline prices were much higher than they are today. Given that the economy has left the recession zone, if ever so slowly, and that gas prices are as cheap as they will likely ever be, why staycation now? Because if you can make an easy drive to downtown Oklahoma City, you’ve already arrived at a premium destination. That’s according to National Geographic.

  • Lawmakers must not back down from Oklahoma Capitol repair

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Dec 26, 2014

    AFTER years of talking about the need to repair the Oklahoma Capitol, the process is finally nearing a point of action — actual repair. This is good, although long overdue, news. Kansas City-based JE Dunn Construction has been selected to perform up to $25 million in repairs to the Capitol’s exterior. The contract won’t be officially awarded until early next year, after the state receives proceeds from a $120 million bond sale. That delay is just one of many encountered as officials have sought to advance repair efforts in recent years. The biggest impediment has been state lawmakers’ unwillingness to fund repair.

  • Complaints about Land Run re-enactments are overwrought

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Dec 26, 2014

    OKLAHOMA City School Board member Bob Hammack has it right on the district’s decision to find alternatives to 1889 Land Run re-enactments. “This is political correctness run amok,” Hammack said, “promulgated by a handful of people who certainly don’t represent the majority of Oklahomans who are very proud of our history.” Where school matters are concerned, the majority opinion sometimes doesn’t matter: Look at what happens when a student is offended by the mention of God in the Pledge of Allegiance.

  • An eternal light, burning bright on a midnight clear

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Dec 25, 2014

    NO man ever spoke like him. He came from out of nowhere, or so it seemed. He had no national name recognition, no family connections, no rich uncle. Yet he built a coalition that remains today. He was enormously popular at times, but scorned and criticized at others. He was plain spoken, spoke from the heart, hardly took time for his own needs, needed little and provided much. He pulled unspeakable joy out of the bellies of the downcast yet stuffed self-righteousness down the throats of the sanctimonious. He turned the tables on convention. He cast out false assumptions, sickened the establishment and established hope for the sick. Were he with us today, in the flesh, liberals would love his compassion but