The first session of Oklahoma’s 56th Legislature was the worst in modern history, CapitolBeatOK editor Patrick B. McGuigan believes. He decried a Senate Republican who compared advocacy of school choice to Nazi medical experimentation, and a House GOP member who advocated deportation of non-English speaking students. Conversely, McGuigan expressed dismay that legislative Democrats – members of the party that Robert S. Kerr helped build – have taken to comparing oil and gas industry leaders to robber barons.
Tax increases were called fees so that state leaders could dodge a requirement for three-fourths legislative majorities; the balanced budget produced at session’s end is probably not (balanced), according to both Scott Inman (House Democrat leader) and Jonathan Small (who leads the conservative OCPA). “If there was ever a year for honesty and clarity in government, this was it,” McGuigan said – but Oklahoma leaders did not deliver.
Having promised to end on a positive note, the veteran journalist encouraged viewers to attend the Paseo Arts Festival this weekend, praised author John J. Dwyer on release of his new book, ‘Shortgrass,’ and thanked state House media staffer Mike Ray for his assistance and for “always being honest.” Ray is retiring on Tuesday, May 31.