The first thing that struck me about Southwest Oklahoma was the broad expanse of land and huge stretch of sky overhead.
My initial visit this year was during a severe thunderstorm with hail in the region and my second was driving a moving truck during downpours that caused flooding to many areas.
It reminded me of my time as a young child in the Midwest. My parents were struggling financially since I came along when both of them were in college.
We used to sit on the screened-in back porch, make popcorn and watch the summer thunderstorms come through like they were fireworks demonstrations.
We’d clap and cheer each time there was a strong bold of lightning or deafening roar of thunder, like God was putting on a show just for us.
Now I’m waiting for the weather to calm down in Oklahoma, which might be easier than finding solutions to the state’s budget woes.
Since I just moved to the area, I am still learning the causes of the current crisis that led to funding cuts to many services, including education.
While there is some usual finger-pointing across the aisle, there is also some criticism within the same political parties about who is at fault.
Regardless of the reasons, it seems there are more suggestions for solutions than Carter has liver pills – to use an outdated expression.
But caution might be the best approach for the people of Oklahoma.
As one speaker at a recent legislative luncheon described, there may be as many as 40 or more congressmen leaving the state House and state Senate this year, even if all incumbents are re-elected.
But with record numbers of filings for candidates, those leaving congress may number even higher .
So, as lawmakers know or suspect they will be leaving office soon, I’m told those are the people who might be tempted to vote for a quick fix because they won’t be around to clean up the mess later and suffer the consequences.
Making cuts alone has been nearly disastrous and demoralizing for educators, students and parents. Other options at raising taxes or cutting business incentives might hurt the very people they are intended to help by driving businesses away from the state or creating an uncooperative climate of hate.
It appears to me, at least on the surface, that a long-term fix is in order, but that might require these people leaving office soon to think of those they represent instead of their future after public service.
Whatever the solution is, I must leave it to trusted elected officials and those more experienced in finances than myself, but it would be nice to hear some fresh ideas and original approaches.
Reach Eric Steinkopff at 580-482-1221, ext. 2072.