Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Where are We Going, and Why are We in this Handbasket?

Ok, now I'm just pissed. Angry. Frustrated. Furious. Livid. Pissed.

In the past days I've heard stories of devastation:

  • Teachers forced to rely on WIC to feed their own children as they educate OURS.
  • Home-bound citizens being told their ADvantage program that provides home nurses, allowing them to live in their own homes with dignity told their program may end November 30.
  • State employees were given a glimmer of a hope for a raise, only to have that dashed.
  • Another tease of a $1000 raise for beleaguered teachers ($83.33 a month before taxes)
  • HB1093, a draconian requirement that Medicaid recipients go to great lengths to requalify for the health care for themselves and their families.
  • Friends who are health-care providers don't know if they'll have a job in December. 
  • Home bound clients may be forced into a nursing home.
  • Mental health clients stand to lose all out-patient services

Letter received by ADvantage clients
We are in the middle of an 'extraordinary' session called by the Governor to fix the budget after the centerpiece of the past session, the $215 MILLION 'smoking cessation' bill was deemed unconstitutional.

Last week I attended the rally at the Capitol to save mental health and public health...or I tried to. I never got into the building until the actual rally was moved outside. I saw desperate caregivers and desperate clients begging lawmakers to do something. I stood behind a client who told me she'd never been to Oklahoma City before. I stood in front of two nurses who drove in from Elk City.

On the 23rd, we were told there was a budget 'agreement'. Umm, the GOP did that to us before. They agreed with leadership...but not with the Democrats. This was the same. the GOP agreed, announced the 'deal', and left the press room without answering questions.

That cobbled-together Frankenstein's monster of a bill went down in the it should have. But these workers and clients had been told that was the only hope to save services. I watched that debate and watched Democratic legislators offer several opportunities to their colleagues for compromise. None was taken. The bill did not reach its 76-vote threshold.

Another bill that actually raised Gross Production Tax on new horizontal oil wells. Friday we all hoped it would sail through Appropriations and Budget Committee and reach the House floor...maybe Saturday. In a stunning raw display of power, the budget compromise failed in a tie. The GOP Chair chose not to vote for the bill. The GOP Speaker of the House who is a member of all Committees did not vote to break the tie. The leadership let the bill die in Committee. It became apparent that our budding hopes were to be destroyed.

If the first bill was Frankenstein's monster, what happened next was the Bride...Cuts, raids of the Rainy Day fund, shuffling of money from one hand to another is what we got. Legislators voted for this mess. I can only imagine their sadness.

Now, today, we read the report of the Interim Study by Representative Rick West, targeting 'Government Waste.' I did not attend...I did volunteer at my Grands'. Rep. West's bold initiative for saving the state from taxes? Do you really want to know??

He suggested the state could save $100,000 if the State Department of Education stopped using color ink in their printers! There are no words. Fill that $215 MILLION dollar hole in the budget from your unconstitutional law with printer cartridges. Yeah, that'll work just fine.

That was his suggestion. No new taxes. No new revenue. No recurring revenue stream. Just stop making color copies.

**A friend just reminded me that the bill to Oklahoma tax payers for this Extraordinary Session is approximately $30,000 per day. That pays mileage and per-diem for legislators who live outside the, three-and-a-half days of Extraordinary Session equals the OSDE's annual color cartridge bill. Priorities.**

Representative West wants to "root...out government inefficiency." He wants to "trim...the fat." He wants the corner on cliches, I guess. He and his colleague, Representative Tom Gann released a statement that chides OSDE for using color cartridges. I have no polite words.

Just tonight, Representative John Bennett, a disciple of Grover make-government-so-small-you-can-drown-it-in-a-bathtub Norquist, called state health and mental health agencies 'terrorists'. TERRORISTS! For doing their jobs and protecting their clients.

"The world is out of balance. The center cannot hold."

I've played nice. I've visited the Capitol. I've written letters and emails. I've made calls. I've worn buttons and held signs. We all have done what we can to make this legislature responsive.

OK Legislature taking last can of WHO HASH
Here we are entering the Christmas season with the biggest Grinches working at the Capitol. Working in service of Big Oil that has decided it won't contribute to our state. It will continue to frack, to extract natural resources out of the land, and it doesn't care if teachers leave the state to feed their children, if disabled patients have to move to nursing homes, if families lose their Medicaid for an excess of paperwork and regulations. The industry doesn't seem to care if dedicated state workers continue to make due with less, with no raises.

The industry doesn't care.

Some legislators don't seem to care.

OCPA, a conservative think tank has taken us #oklaed bloggers to task for our bad language and vitriol. Bad words and vitriol are bubbling to the surface right now like red-hot lava.

Today, all I can think is "Sh*t. Sh*t. Sh*t. What the actual H*ll? What the Frack??"

Oh, and Merry Christmas to Oklahoma...if we have a state in December.

What services have I forgotten? Please add them in comments. I know I'm not thinking clearly right now.


  1. The nursing homes the elderly will have to move into are going to be closing, too, for lack of Medicaid for the patients they already have!

  2. These people who are losing services (mental health, advantage) will be diverted into ER's and we will have no where to put them from here, putting undue stress on hospitals that are often already at capacity!