A Challenge to Oklahoma Legislators: Walk Out
Dreaming the Dreams of Our Children
A Challenge for Oklahoma Legislators: Walk Out
March 23, 2018 by Tom Deighan
I doubt that any of you current legislators were in politics twenty-five years ago when SQ 640 established the 75% supermajority rule in order to raise taxes. And few of you were likely in office when past legislatures created off-the-top funding and simultaneously lowered essential state revenue streams. Both actions have hamstrung your ability to run the state, and many of us recognize this. You did not create this catastrophe, but unfortunately, it is your mess to clean up. Your hands have been tied by circumstances and past legislatures, but you are not bound by past legislatures or limited to their worn-out solutions. How you handle this crisis will reflect on you, and you alone.
It is unfair that all of you legislators are being painted with one, broad brush when the stalemate is due to a relatively small number of people. Some fringe republicans seem to want a teacher walk-out, as if it will somehow elevate their brand. Some fringe democrats also seem to want one, apparently thinking it will help win elections in November. The vast majority of you, however, sincerely want solutions. So if most of you have proven a willingness to set partisan goals aside, why are you allowing a small minority to control you? They made their stand, so call them out. I honestly respect anyone standing on principle, but let them stand alone as the rest of you walk out of the House and Senate chambers this Thursday if there is no solution. Walk out together, not as democrats or republicans but as Oklahomans. Walk out to show that you are committed to drastic measures in drastic times. Walk out to show parents, students, and educators who you are and who they are. Walk out so maybe teachers won’t have to.
The educators that I am hearing from do not want to walk out, but they do not believe anyone is truly listening to them. The reason you are not hearing from them is because they have given up. They are resigned to the unthinkable because nothing else has worked. Let them hear from you. Let them see you. Let them know who is fighting to find a solution and who thinks the solution is merely in fighting. You would be doing nothing more than allowing people an opportunity to stand firmly on their principles as you walk confidently out on yours.
Walk out on those legislators before teachers walk out on you. Let educators, parents, and all of Oklahoma see your anger and frustration. Let us know who you are, so there is no doubt who they are. Use the supermajority rule to your advantage by forcing the holdouts into the spotlight. Quit trying to answer for them and let them answer for themselves. Legislators have been promising to address unfunded mandates, to restore funding, and to increase educators’ pay for years, and most of you are willing to do it. If you cannot get your colleagues to move . . . then move away from those colleagues. Show the entire state that you are as frustrated as the rest of us.
If you do not have a solution by Thursday, walk out and focus the eyes of Oklahoma on them. Let them take ownership of this disaster. Our local communities need to see exactly who is holding everything up. Voters need to see it. Whatever you do over the next week will be historic, but unfortunately, you will all be painted with the same wide brush . . . unless you do something dramatic. Before educators walk out, those of you who have done all you can should walk out first because sometimes you just have to let people sit in the mess they refuse to clean up.