The Norman Transcript

Opinion

April 12, 2014

Does Oklahoma need advice from Texas?

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Evidently, Fallin and Barresi don’t think people with disabilities can be educated or become productive citizens.

Larson’s claim of government efficiency glosses over the real truth: Fallin eliminated several boards, committees and commissions that gave a voice to various minorities, such as the Human Rights Commission, Affirmative Action, Native American Affairs, Hispanic Affairs, Asian Affairs, etc.  I suspect that members of those neglected communities would differ with the words of the legislator from south of our border.

While he bragged about government efficiency, why didn’t the all-knowing Lyle Larson mention the large increases given to several agency heads that ranged from $10,000 to $47,000 per year in raises? Some of those annual raises were larger than some state employees’ annual salaries. How fair is that?

In addressing fairness, what about the issue of funding for public education? After suffering deep cuts for several years, the increases now given do not raise the funding past 2008 levels, even though Oklahoma public schools have a huge increase in enrollment.

With about 40,000 more students to teach and a continuing loss of teachers, the current class size has more than doubled from the size allowed in the now defunct HB 1017 class size.

Fallin and Barressi both agreed that teachers need a $2,000 pay raise; however, they sidestepped the issue by saying let the various districts come up with the money. Yes, an already underfunded district can now be expected to find additional money to give the teachers a well-deserved pay raise.

Those two Republicans used the same logic to say they were for “safe rooms” in schools, but again, let the districts find a pot of gold to pay for them. How efficient is it for the governor to want to take a well-funded pension plan — like that of the teachers, which is funded at about 85 percent — and want to replace it with a risky “Wall Street” type retirement plan?

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