• ScissorTales: Statistics tell interesting story

    The Oklahoman editorials | Published: Sat, Nov 29, 2014

    THE Oklahoma Policy Institute does a marvelous job gathering and analyzing information. Its crunching of numbers on state finances is a valuable tool for journalists, policymakers and the public. An update is now available for an OKPolicy tool called CountySTATS, which details demographic information for each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. (Check it out at okpolicy.org/resources/countystats2014). Here’s something we found interesting: The state’s smallest county has a higher percentage of Hispanic residents than the largest county. Also, a higher percentage of Cimarron County residents are employed in state and local government than in Oklahoma County — 11 percent vs. 10 percent.

  • Oklahoma's NCLB waiver reprieve may prove to be temporary

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Nov 28, 2014

    THE U.S. Department of Education has reinstated Oklahoma’s one-year waiver from certain provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. This is welcome news since it reduces federal red tape. But several proposals touted by Oklahoma politicians could lead to another revocation of that waiver next year. After lawmakers repealed Common Core academic standards, Oklahoma lost a federal waiver exempting the state from provisions of NCLB that would designate about 1,600 schools (90 percent) as needing improvement. The designation would cost those schools control over roughly $30 million in federal funding.

  • No excuse for Oklahoma policymakers not to pursue corrections reform

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Nov 28, 2014

    THE Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and Oklahoma Policy Institute are serious, reputable think tanks with vastly different worldviews. The former champions a conservative, free-market approach to government. It favors tax cuts. OK Policy generally sees government spending and taxation as the solution, not the problem, to issues facing the state. Yet these two groups have found common ground on the need for corrections reform in Oklahoma. In op-eds published in this newspaper Sunday, OK Policy’s executive director and OCPA’s executive vice president each called on leaders to do something different in this area.

  • Food, family, football and other blessings

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Nov 27, 2014

    PRESIDENTIAL proclamations are typically verbose, ghostwritten, ceremonial and quickly forgotten. Remember Barack Obama’s proclamation of National Family Week of 2014? No? It happened less than a week ago. As ephemeral as they are, some presidential proclamations are more dessert than turkey, sticking in memory because of the importance attached to an event about which the document was issued. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation is the gravy covering several such examples. Through the years, presidents have proclaimed a certain date as being Thanksgiving Day — as if the people might not know otherwise. And also through the years, Thanksgiving proclamations didn’t always carry a November date. George Washington

  • Abraham Lincoln: 'A day of thanksgiving, praise'

    Published: Thu, Nov 27, 2014

    President Abraham Lincoln’s 1864 Thanksgiving proclamation: “It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards.

  • Numerous recent examples of how social ills plague Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

    WE’VE said any number of times that until more Oklahomans are able climb out of poverty, or stop misusing drugs and alcohol at such a high rate, or stop having children at such a young age, the social ills that have plagued this state for generations will only continue. The effects of those ills were on ghastly display last week. In Muskogee, police are trying to determine whether neglect contributed to the death of a 12-year-old boy found in a home Thursday. He weighed just 37 pounds and was about 3 ½ feet tall. His family told police the boy had suffered a medical condition shortly after birth and from ongoing medical issues since then. Police also found several dirty diapers in a bedroom and animal feces on the floor of the

  • Ferguson: A symbol of deep divides among Americans

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

    Continued dialogue needed

  • If successful, Oklahoma tax cut challenge has major potential consequences

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    A case before the Oklahoma Supreme Court will determine if a constitutional provision designed to hinder passage of tax increases also hinders passage of tax cuts. The wrong outcome could result in widespread tax increases. Lawmakers should be prepared to deal with an adverse court decision. State Question 640, approved by Oklahoma voters in 1992, amended the Oklahoma Constitution to require that revenue measures must either be sent to a vote of the people or get three-fourths approval in both houses of the Legislature. It also banned approval of such measures during the final five days of a legislative session. A lawsuit now argues that a revenue bill includes tax increases and tax cuts. That flies in the face of common

  • New Republican majority in Congress needs to KEEP on keeping on

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Nov 24, 2014

    FOR the good of energy security and domestic energy independence, the new Republican majority in Congress needs to KEEP on keeping on. “KEEP” is an acronym for a plan of action posited by Mark P. Mills, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow. Writing for Forbes, Mills says the North American energy boom caught many of us by surprise and needs to be encouraged by government policy. In our view, it would be a surprise if the Obama administration allows the market rather than Washington to set the parameters for growth in the energy sector. The alternative, of course, is for government policy to artificially restrain growth. “KEEP” stands for Keystone, EPA, exports and production. More on that below.

  • As business booms, Oklahoma casinos, state need to keep looking for ways to help problem gamblers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Nov 23, 2014

    TEN years after Oklahoma voters approved a state question to allow Indian tribes to offer faster electronic gaming machines, the state has more than 115 gambling sites and hundreds of millions of dollars more in the treasury. The tribes are flourishing. Oklahoma also has thousands of problem gamblers, a not-unexpected offshoot of expanded gaming. Indeed from the outset in 2004, Oklahoma has directed funding to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to help deal with problem gamblers. Most every state does something similar. In a recent report, stateline.org noted that of the 23 states that allow casino gambling, all but five have statutes providing services for people who have gambling problems. But some

  • Fraud issues draining federal program to help injured workers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Nov 23, 2014

    ONE of the many problems with an ever-bigger government is that it amplifies the impact of incompetence or corruption. That’s certainly the case with the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, where just 4 percent of administrative law judges may have facilitated $2 billion in bogus payments. The program’s payments are intended for those who can no longer work, but applicants whose disability claims are initially denied can appeal to administrative law judges. As chairman of the House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements, U.S. Rep. (soon to be U.S. Sen.) James Lankford has focused on apparent abuses in disability payments.

  • ScissorTales: Oklahoma City woman gives mental illness a face

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Nov 22, 2014

    OKLAHOMA could use more people like Augusta Cox. Cox, 39, of Oklahoma City, has schizophrenia and isn’t afraid to let others know it. Why? Because she’s trying to break down the powerful stigma associated with mental illness, which affects roughly one-fifth of the state’s population. For a time about five years ago, Cox began thinking that songs on the radio were being played solely for her, and that TV hosts were talking to her. She then began hearing voices, including some that told her to consume all the pills in her house. She was admitted to a mental hospital where she stayed a month. Then, over a two-year period, she was in and out of the hospital before her schizophrenia was diagnosed. That led to a

  • Obama missing an opportunity with Ferguson, Mo., case

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    THE name “Trayvon” became a symbol for race-based injustice. President Obama embarrassed himself by rushing to judgment in the case of the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin nearly three years ago in Florida. The name “Ferguson” is the latest symbol of race-based injustice. Obama had a chance to redeem himself by working feverishly to cool tensions ahead of a grand jury determination on the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown this summer in Ferguson, Mo. Obama has done little to indicate that he values the rule of law over the law of the streets. What could be a shining moment for his presidency has been tarnished by inaction.

  • President has done an about-face on his ability to act on immigration

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    IF you like your health care plan, you can keep it. President Barack Obama made that promise numerous times in pitching his Affordable Care Act. As millions of Americans have come to learn, what the president said came out of whole cloth. It did not align with the facts. So we should probably have known to take as a yarn the many times in the past few years that Obama told those itching for immigration reform that he can’t simply act unilaterally on their behalf, that he’s not an emperor. Now, of course, he plans to don a new wardrobe and do exactly that. The president plans a prime-time address Thursday to bring out of the closet his executive order providing relief from deportation to millions of undocumented

  • Oklahoma Indian museum funding plan deserves a hearing

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    STATE Sen. Patrick Anderson, an Enid Republican who’s opposed funding the completion of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City, now says he can support the project if the associated state tax dollars are tied to tribal enterprises. That’s a positive development, but Anderson’s shift undermines the arguments he and other museum opponents previously espoused. About $91 million has been spent on the museum so far, but builders ran out of money in July 2012. Simple preservation of the unfinished site now costs the state about $60,000 a month, plus around $5 million annually to repay state bonds previously issued for the museum’s construction.

  • Tactics during Oklahoma campaign undermine education group's mission, message

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    STAND for Children’s mission statement declares that the national group wants “to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, a college education.” That’s a worthy goal and a high standard. The organization’s Oklahoma chapter needs to meet a high standard as well for transparency. In Oklahoma, Stand for Children is primarily known for supporting Common Core academic standards in English and math. The group was among Common Core’s most vocal defenders this year before lawmakers ultimately voted to repeal the standards. Among other things, Stand for Children officials laudably and truthfully warned that repeal could cost Oklahoma its federal waiver

  • Opposition to Obamacare not likely to subside

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Nov 19, 2014

    LAWRENCE R. Jacobs, the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies at the University of Minnesota, is an expert on federal health care reform. He authored a book on passage of Obamacare. In a recent Oklahoma City appearance, Jacobs predicted there won’t be any major changes to the law in the near future, despite GOP control of Congress. He also suggested citizens would come to embrace the law. Political reality suggests that Jacobs is correct on the first point, but his second prediction is overly reliant on wishful thinking. Polling has consistently showed that Obamacare disapproval significantly exceeds approval, Jacobs noted. Yet individual provisions of the law poll well, and voters generally favor amendment

  • Online voter registration proposal for Oklahoma merits consideration

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Nov 18, 2014

    THE Nov. 4 election results mean the Legislature will be even more dominated by Republicans in 2015 than it has been the past two years. The new Senate minority leader, Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton, will have a caucus of eight members — down from 12 previously. This ever-shrinking minority means ever-shrinking clout for Democrats, although Bass appears unfazed. A proposal of his last week provides an example. Bass said he plans to introduce a bill next session that would allow for online voter registration, a move he hopes will translate into more people in Oklahoma going to the polls. The state generally has low voter turnout. That was especially true this month when just 41 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. The state

  • It's time for U.S. to ease drone regulations

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Nov 18, 2014

    IT’S rare when U.S. officials should look to European countries for guidance on less-restrictive industry regulation, but such is the case with commercial drones. Currently, the United States has some of the industrialized world’s most onerous regulations regarding private-sector use of drones. In a nutshell, virtually all commercial use is illegal. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to eventually unveil less-restrictive regulations, but those rules aren’t scheduled to be finalized for several more years. In the meantime, the commercial drone industry is flourishing outside the United States. In September, the FAA authorized six film-making companies to use drones.

  • Legacy-building phase under way for Obama presidency

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Nov 17, 2014

    GIVEN his lame duck status and the crushing defeat of Democrats in congressional elections this month, Barack Obama will have to rely even more than usual on his pen and his phone. He’d better lay in some ink cartridges and keep that phone charged because it’s clear that the next Congress is in no mood to give him what he wants on many issues — just as Obama was in no mood to compromise with Republicans on health care reform. The president has entered his legacy-building phase, which all too soon will transition to a “How grandiose will my presidential library be?” phase.