Showing insults and arrogance in lack of mental health funding

Oklahoman Published: March 3, 2014

Insults and arrogance

Oklahoma has a $188 million budget shortfall at a time of unequalled industrial prosperity. Another 0.25 percent cut to income taxes is in the wings. At 45th in per capita tax revenue, Oklahoma epitomizes small government. The response to shortfall? A 5 percent cut to the Office of Juvenile Affairs and Medicaid funding on top of a 3.5 percent cut in 2009. For people providing behavioral health services to disadvantaged Oklahomans, overwhelmingly children, who currently wrangle with Oklahoma’s 46th-ranked per capita spending on mental health, these actions deeply wound our efforts. They represent insult and arrogant dismissal of time spent instilling children with common goals we all work toward: taking accountability for actions, graduating from school, earning employment, growing into being a good husband/wife/Oklahoman.

In an era of unprecedented growth, we say, “Not only are we refusing to restore and improve things, we are taking away more from what was already taken, and then we’re going to take more.” We’re 49th in per-student expenditures, yet the leading incarcerator of women. To the child whose mother is in prison, not having a choice where they were born, we say, “Good luck with your problems. Here’s a shovel. Go dig a ditch.”

A pendulum can swing too far. Wake up, while we cut our nose to spite our face. The scars will remain.

Taylor Randolph, Enid