McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Opinion

April 6, 2014

At the Capital with Rep. Donnie Condit

McALESTER — There are a few days in my tenure as a representative that will be memorable for years to come. Monday March 31st was one of those days. It was estimated that 20,000-25,000 people concerned about education met at the Capitol. Please keep in mind no days of instruction were used to make this trip. Schools had to rearrange their calendars in order to meet the state mandate of the number of hours a school must meet. The main concern of those who rallied was funding for public education.

Since 2009, the state has cut per-pupil expenditures by 23 percent. Ours is the biggest cut in education in the nation. Some other concerns are the passing of income tax reductions when our state is already struggling to meet its financial obligations. Also, a lot of educators and parents are concerned about a national education reform known as the Common Core State Standards. I have maintained that we need to leave most of the decisions of educational curriculum up to the local school boards and administrators. Some of you know that my office sends out 250 letters each week and on the back of the letter is a survey. Question number three states, “Do you feel the Legislature adequately funds public education?” I have received over 125 of the surveys back and over 91 percent answer “No.” The Legislature must find a way to not only properly fund education, but all state services.

The House and Senate meet in joint session each year to honor the veterans of this great state. This year, the Oklahoma Veterans Council recognized Rep. Tommy Hardin (R-Madill) and Sen. Frank Simpson (R-Ardmore) for their service to our state’s heroes. Rep. Hardin and I were both elected in 2010. I can attest to Rep. Hardin’s character and he is well-deserving of this honor. It is always a moving experience and we can never thank our veterans enough. I applaud our veterans!

We have been busy hearing Senate bills in committee the last two weeks and few on the House floor. Here are a couple we heard this week:

Senate Bill 1248 was heard in Public Safety A & B sub-committee. It would authorize the director of the Department of Corrections to give an expense allowance of $100 per month to all uniformed correctional officers for maintenance and cleaning of uniforms and other related expenses. In light of the financial status of the state, salary increases are probably not realistic. SB1248 may provide some financial relief for DOC correctional officers.

SB1830, as introduced, modifies the resident requirement for county officers by requiring that, in addition to being a qualified registered elector, a candidate for a county office must maintain a current principal residence in their respective district for at least six (6) months immediately preceding the first day of the filing period prescribed by law.

Thank you to the constituents from my district who stopped in to the Capitol to say “hello” this past week: Becky and Terry James, Michael James, Randy and Pam Davenport, and all the schools that came to the capitol; from OIL — Bobby Logsdon, Shaun Johnston, Rebekah Robinette, Russell and Kristie Bigelow, Nathan Coburn, Tiffany Burch, Ricky Greathouse, Tony Grimes, Melissa White, the Oklahoma School of the Deaf, and the ladies from the Pittsburg County Republican Women — Lonnie Lu Anderson, Christina Wacker, Gloria Reeves, Lee Paddock, Judy Boswell-True, Rosemary Pruss, Joanne Miller, C.J. Swinton and Tina Yarolem.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at 405-557-7376 or 918-916-9004. You can also e-mail me at Donnie.condit@okhouse.gov. Thank you and God Bless America!

Donnie Condit, D-McAlester, is Oklahoma District 18 state Representative.

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