Grading school districts and individual schools is a controversial state policy that occupied some of the time of legislators in the 2013 session. As for grading how wisely legislators spent their time this session, report cards are emerging with some highly subjective conclusions.
Gov. Mary Fallin and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman gave the session an A. House Speaker T.W. Shannon gave it an A-minus. Thus, the three people most responsible for what went on during the session were quite pleased with the result.
At the other end of the spectrum, the director of a progressive think tank said lawmakers earned a D. His conservative counterpart gave the session a B. The head of the state employees union gave it an I — Incomplete — for failing to address compensation issues.
Other voices marked a grade card as well. State Treasurer Ken Miller gave the session an A-minus. State Chamber CEO Fred Morgan gave it an A. We'd be hard pressed to rate the session above a B-minus, but what enthused Fallin, Shannon, Bingman, Miller, Morgan and others also enthused us. It was the breaking of a logjam on workers' compensation system reform.
Oklahoma Policy Institute Director David Blatt ignored that development and awarded his D based on “multiple triumphs of ideology over common sense.” We disagree with Blatt on many issues, but we concur that this Legislature deserved a downgrade for its ideological forays.
What irked Blatt was the Legislature's lack of attention to the uninsured problem, its rejection of bond issues and its support for an income tax cut. Lack of a more significant tax cut, combined with increased spending, kept Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs President Michael Carnuccio from jumping on the A bandwagon carrying Fallin et al.
Few legislative sessions earn an A. Only with a generous grade inflation policy did this one achieve that level.