• Some pay raises for Oklahoma agency directors are questionable — and so are some agencies

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Oct 22, 2014

    TERRI White makes $173,000 per year as director of the state’s mental health agency. It could easily be argued that she’s worth every penny: White professionally and passionately runs an agency with a budget in the $350 million range that’s tasked with addressing Oklahoma’s myriad mental health and substance abuse problems. White formerly made $133,455 annually. Her 30 percent jump in pay came during the past fiscal year and was among the raises — some of them quite generous — given to 48 agency directors by their various boards. These have drawn criticism from Gov. Mary Fallin and other politicians who note that many of the same agencies have complained in recent years about their budgets being kept flat or

  • Blanket spending increases don't automatically translate into reduced school challenges

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Oct 21, 2014

    A new report suggesting Oklahoma’s state education funding has been reduced by a greater amount than any other state since 2008 has prompted a predictable response from those who always claim schools are “financially starved.” But the report leaves unanswered a more important question: Exactly where should additional funds be directed to best improve educational outcomes? The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, calculated per-pupil state-appropriation spending in 2008, and then adjusted it for inflation and student population growth. By this measure, Oklahoma’s current state-appropriated funding is 23.6 percent less than what it would be had the 2008 rate been maintained.

  • We can help our hungry neighbors in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Oct 21, 2014

    QUIRKY diet fads don’t mean much to an estimated 675,000 food insecure Oklahomans. Most of them don’t count calories; many can’t even count on the next meal. This is an ongoing challenge and probably has been since the dawn of time. To the state’s credit, and in conjunction with the Oklahoma Standard, many gladly open their hearts and wallets. With the holiday season on the horizon, Gov. Mary Fallin is asking for the public’s help with her fifth annual Feeding Oklahoma Food Drive. She wants to raise enough for 2 million meals. The effort, continuing through Oct. 31, takes canned goods and monetary donations. To know more, visit www.feedingoklahoma.org. The governor isn’t the only one concerned with the hungry.

  • Pay of Oklahoma school superintendents is an issue that merits scrutiny

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    STATE Reps. Todd Thomsen and Lee Denney are outraged that a school superintendent in Oklahoma is earning a very healthy salary. To which we respond: They’re just now noticing this? Thomsen, R-Ada, and Denney, R-Cushing, note that John Cox, superintendent of the Peggs district in Cherokee County, is paid $141,678. The state average for superintendents is $76,424, based on figures from the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability. Apparently, Oklahomans are supposed to think it coincidental that these GOP lawmakers became concerned about superintendent pay only weeks before the election for state schools superintendent. Cox is the Democratic nominee in that race.

  • Oklahoma state officials must remain diligent in Ebola efforts

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    STATE officials say Oklahoma has a “well-oiled machine” in place to combat Ebola if the disease arises here. Let’s hope that statement isn’t a triumph of hype over substance. The governmental track record in responding to Ebola elsewhere provides little reason for outsized confidence. In Dallas, a nurse who treated an Ebola patient from Africa contracted the disease despite reportedly wearing protective gear. A second Texas health care worker has also tested positive for Ebola. In a statement, National Nurses United portrayed efforts to prevent the spread of Ebola at the Dallas hospital as haphazard at best. The nurses’ group claims medical officials were provided “no advanced preparedness on what to do with

  • The Oklahoman endorsement: Mary Fallin has earned another four years in Oklahoma governor's office

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Oct 19, 2014

    DURING her 2010 campaign for governor, Mary Fallin stressed a desire to try to improve Oklahoma’s economy and make the state a more attractive place for businesses large and small. She’s done that, which is a major reason Fallin merits re-election on Nov. 4. As Election Day approaches, Oklahoma has the nation’s fourth-fastest growing gross domestic product. The state’s unemployment rate, at 7 percent when Fallin took office, is now 4.7 percent, among the lowest in the nation. Small businesses are working with a different, less costly workers’ compensation system as a result of changes that went into effect on Fallin’s watch.

  • Oklahoma agency doesn't need feds' help in studying pipeline safety

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Oct 19, 2014

    PATERNALISTIC progressives, personified by President Barack Obama, seem to think every problem has a federal solution. Only Washington can fix things. This is why the EPA overregulates the energy and utility industries. Big Brother doesn’t always know best. Environmental and safety regulations can be handled at the state level. This includes regulation of hydraulic fracturing and injection wells, as well as pipeline safety. State regulators don’t necessarily see industry as the enemy. The same can’t be said of Obama’s EPA or other agencies under his control. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is doing a good job of looking into the injection well-seismic activity link allegations. It’s now engaged in pipeline

  • ScissorTales: Too few Oklahomans completing college

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Oct 18, 2014

    TONY Hutchinson, a vice chancellor with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, reported to his colleagues this week that only two in 10 high school graduates in Oklahoma goes on to earn a post-secondary degree or certificate. This is problematic, because available jobs require more than three times that many graduates. That’s especially true for jobs in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math. Hutchinson cited statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that in Oklahoma, more than one-third of new and replacement jobs from 2012 to 2022 will require an associate or bachelor’s degree. More than one-fourth will require a bachelor’s degree.

  • When policy changes are suggested, consider the source

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    AS part of Food & Water Watch’s third annual Global Frackdown, a group of about 20 activists recently rallied at the Oklahoma Capitol to call for a state moratorium on underground injection of wastewater by the oil and natural gas industry, which they claim causes earthquakes. Before anyone takes this request seriously, keep this adage in mind: Consider the source. As Chad Warmington, president of the Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association, noted in a press release, Food & Water Watch is notorious for “pushing junk science and outright deception in their quest to end oil and gas production in America.” Indeed. The website Big Green Radicals notes that Food & Water Watch has crusaded “to eliminate the sources

  • Another distressing report about Oklahoma child welfare agency

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    WE’VE been down this path before: Out-of-state monitors of Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services issue a report that is highly critical of the agency’s compliance with conditions agreed to as part of a federal lawsuit settlement. DHS officials insist they’re doing all they can to comply. “Nobody wants to make this happen faster than we do,” DHS Director Ed Lake said. “But it’s been difficult.” The newest report, issued Wednesday by three “co-neutrals” chosen to follow up on the state’s efforts after the lawsuit’s settlement in 2012, is distressing.

  • Health care law winds up discouraging work, upward mobility

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Oct 16, 2014

    Economist’s study is damning

  • State right to seek delay in pending Oklahoma executions

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Oct 16, 2014

    Oklahoma has no margin for error

  • Uncertain futures for two efforts being tried again in Oklahoma Legislature

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Oct 15, 2014

    Texting and driving, DNA testing under consideration

  • Downtown rebirth continues apace in Oklahoma City

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Oct 14, 2014

    TO quote Petula Clark, “everything’s waiting for you” downtown. Not quite everything, actually, but a lot more is waiting for you in downtown Oklahoma City than was true in 1964, when Clark’s memorable song “Downtown” topped the charts. More telling is that a lot more is waiting downtown than was true just five years ago or even one year ago. Twenty-one years after voters approved the initial MAPS proposal, triggering a true renaissance, the city’s core continues to flourish. Almost every day, it seems, The Oklahoman’s Steve Lackmeyer, who keeps his finger on the pulse of most everything in the central city, reports on yet another development or potential development. Below are just some of the more recent

  • Data points don't support President Obama's claim that we're 'better off' today

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Oct 14, 2014

    BARACK Obama has always seen himself as an agent of change, a la Ronald Reagan. His goal was to do for progressive politics what Reagan had done for conservatism. Thus it was no surprise that he parroted a Reagan trope in recently asking the question of whether Americans are better off today than when he took office — and then answering his own question by concluding that “the country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office.” For Reagan, it was a campaign strategy drawn as a weapon against Jimmy Carter in 1980. Are you better off, he asked voters, than you were four years ago? Such comparisons aren’t unique to Reagan and Obama, of course, but Reagan put his own stamp on it — quite

  • Not much buzz related to this year's midterm elections

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Oct 13, 2014

    No ‘animating political issues’ in play

  • Proposed marijuana legislation carries a considerable downside

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Oct 13, 2014

    MARIJUANA legalization was highlighted in a recent debate between Oklahoma candidates for a U.S. Senate seat. This issue continues to bubble up in political discussions, so it’s important that associated policy decisions be based on facts. Research continues to identify significant consequences to recreational marijuana use. The Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, state Sen. Connie Johnson of Oklahoma City, supports decriminalizing marijuana use. She defended that stance in the debate. Her opponent, U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, isn’t a fan of that idea. “I just have a hard time with anyone saying, ‘The best thing we can do for our kids is to get their parents to smoke more marijuana,’” Lankford said.

  • Secondary statewide races in Oklahoma still important

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Oct 12, 2014

    GUBERNATORIAL and congressional races are getting the most attention during this election cycle, but three secondary statewide offices are also on the Nov. 4 ballot. Two of the races feature an incument who, under state law, can serve only one additional term. In the race for lieutenant governor, Republican incumbent Todd Lamb faces Democratic nominee Cathy Cummings, a restaurant owner. The position is largely ceremonial, but Lamb has ably used the job to advocate for policies that will grow Oklahoma’s economy and create more jobs. Lamb makes a point of visiting all 77 Oklahoma counties each year, and he routinely meets with local business leaders. These meetings inform a report that Lamb issues annually to recommend a wide range

  • Switching Oklahoma budget practices would involve challenges

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Oct 12, 2014

    Gubernatorial candidates like the idea

  • ScissorTales: Buzz is mostly about debates that aren't happening

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Oct 11, 2014

    ’TIS the season for political debates and the buzz this year is mostly about the debates that aren’t happening. Supporters of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s unknown Democratic opponent have been burning up their Facebook pages with orchestrated outrage about Inhofe’s refusal to debate. USA Today, in an editorial, laments the lack of debates in the Ohio governor’s race and several contests for U.S. Senate seats. In a countering view next to the editorial, political scientist Robert G. Boatright says he’s “skeptical that debates in this year’s midterm elections will serve a useful function” in light of the “unprecedented level of polarization” in Congress. Waxing nostalgic about great debates such as