Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Bipartisan Solutions Needed to Problems Facing Okla

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Bipartisan Solutions Needed to Problems Facing Okla

Article excerpt

On Monday, Gov. Brad Henry gave the annual State of the State address to the Oklahoma Legislature, outlining his program for this legislative session. Much of the program had been previously released by the governor, but this was a complete outline of his legislative agenda.

Overall, it was optimistic and detailed with achievable objectives. It had a strong emphasis on education and recognized the importance of improving educational opportunities while raising the quality of education now available to the children and students in Oklahoma.

It also addressed improving health care, economic development, public safety and, in general, outlined specific approaches to the governor's programs that should receive legitimate consideration from legislators.

Naturally, the success or failure of any legislative program is in the details, and the details that will spell success or failure for the governor and his proposals. With a Democratic governor, a Republican House and a split Senate, there are certainly going to be disputes and changes as the legislation works its way through the legislative process.

This would be true if all three entities were under the control of the same party. With the present division, the process will become more complex and the end result less predictable. Divisions between those of the same party are common but these multiply in split control when political advantage might be gained by either political party. This is not unexpected and is the natural consequence of our political process.

The biggest problem will be if a stalemate or excessive partisanship negatively affects the future of our state. This is when legislators must rise above party lines on critical or necessary legislation and not be committed more to a political party than the betterment of Oklahoma.

The Legislature must appropriate the funds for the fiscal year beginning July 1. This includes our schools, colleges, criminal justice system, and just about everything that affects the lives and future of Oklahomans in their safety, health, education, and all of the state resources utilized to operate the state government. In addition, other legislation will address the issues that confront us, from the crises in our prisons to the financial future of Oklahoma. …

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