A guy approached me at the coffee shop this morning, asked my name, said he recognized me from a Let's Fix This event or news story or something, and struck up a conversation. Important to note that we didn't discuss politics; we discussed his thoughts on the state budget situation and what it means for the future of Oklahoma.
A lot of folks, myself included, have commented on the lack of leadership among our state legislature and other statewide elected officials. That deficiency has been highlighted repeatedly this year by the legislature's fledgling attempts to fix the budget. From the Governor's highly unpopular plan to tax services to the recent communication break down among legislative leaders, the people responsible for guiding our state's financial well-being have left the public feeling, well...honestly, pretty scared about the future.
Just over 84 years ago, in the midst of the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office and delivered his first inaugural address. The speech mostly was about the Depression, which was (and still is) the worst financial crisis in American history. However, if you read it now, you'd think he was talking to us about Oklahoma's present budget situation. We've been saying things are bad, and hearing FDR's words echo across history gives our current situation some much-needed context. The familiar phrase "those who choose to ignore history are doomed to repeat it" has never felt more relevant.
The Oklahoman recently published an editorial written by Oklahoma House of Representatives Speaker-elect Charles McCall (R-Atoka), in which he states that before the legislative sessions starts in February, the House will hold budget hearings for the top five appropriated state agencies. (He doesn't mention which agencies, but they are Education, Health, Human Services, Public Safety, and Transportation.)