Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Stroud pastor, businessman announces candidacy for State Senate District 28

Well Known Pastor and Business Leader Announces State Senate Campaign for District 28

STROUD, OK 03/31/2020 -- Mike Haines is pro-life, pro-second amendment, and a champion for religious freedom. He is a Republican who believes the state has a duty to limit federal control and that the best engine of our economy is the free-market.

Mike Haines, pastor of Deer Creek Baptist Church and founder of Well Checked Systems International has announced that he intends to file for Oklahoma State Senate District 28, Jason Smalley’s vacated State Senate seat.

Candidate Haines said, “I have watched as decades have passed while issues that concern District 28 continue to be overlooked. We have ongoing economic development, rural healthcare, and addiction issues. Oklahoma State District 28 deserves a strong faithful leader that will not back down until our issues are solved.”

Mike Haines grew up in small-town rural Oklahoma working hard as a young man in quarries and his family’s small ranch. He received his Masters of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary and holds three patents with two more pending. An award-winning software developer for IBM, he has built his business career on solving difficult problems.

“Many in the legislature continue to ignore the issues that affect our rural communities. We have to fight them to retain control over our schools, our businesses, our farms, and our families. The oil patch is in free fall and so many of our neighbors are out of work. There is no bottom in sight and no answers coming out of Oklahoma City, even though international bad actors are in direct violation of their own agreements.”, Mike Haines said.

He continued, “I am not running for a title or a seat, I am running for us. I will stand with our folks from Wellston to Pink and from Wewoka to Kendrick. There is no unimportant area of our district and we deserve to be represented with strength and integrity.”

For more information about Mike Haines, visit: hainesforsenate.com or facebook.com/okdistrict28

PART 1: Friends, patients, staffers share stories and tributes about Dr. Tom Coburn

Dr. Tom Coburn passed away on Saturday, leaving behind his cancer-ridden body as he entered into eternity with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Those of us who remain behind now gaze at the full measure of his life, and the tremendous legacy that he leaves behind.

In the time since the news broke, I have received numerous press releases from elected officials and politicians, all lauding Dr. Coburn, his life, and his career. A perusal of media interviews and Twitter feeds with show comments from many people in politics all remembering Coburn fondly, even though many of those same individuals fought his efforts tooth-and-nail when he was in office.

I wanted to get reactions from "real" people, folks who were medical patients during Coburn's career, friends from the community, people who worked on his congressional or campaign staffs. I received so many responses and stories, some including photos, that I'll be breaking this into two posts.

Thanks to all who sent in their stories and memories. Dr. Coburn was a truly great man who touched countless lives.

Muskogee Family Medicine, Dr. Coburn's old practice:
It is with great sadness we mark the passing of the founder of Muskogee Family Medicine, Thomas Allen Coburn, MD. Dr. Coburn began what became Muskogee Family Medicine in 1986 at the corner of 12th and Broadway in Muskogee with only three employees. In 1990 he moved the practice to its current location.

“Dr. Tom” , as we call him, pursued the practice of family medicine with a passion and was an inspiration to us all. He entered his medical career after success in his family’s optical business. A victory over melanoma inspired him to become a physician. He stated that “he wanted to give back, because he had been given to”.

His dedication to his patients was inexhaustible. Over his career he delivered some 4,000 babies and would often see over 30 patients per day in his office. After election to the US House of Representatives in 1994, he would fly to and from Washington DC every week so that he could continue to serve his patients. He maintained this schedule for the entire six year term.

Few men have better lived Jesus’ description of self-sacrifice noted in John 15:13—“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.”

Dr. Tom was an example to us all of a life well lived. He was a great physician because he was a great man.

Jane Treat (Broken Arrow, OK):
His generosity.

I moved from VA to Oklahoma to work to help him get elected in 2004. He was a legend. His character, courage, and conviction earned him a reputation of trust and action among DC conservatives. I moved from DC, planning to work for free (even though I had 3 paid job offers at the time) to get this citizen legislator who believed in term limits elected to the Senate.

I had worked at the RNC and on several political campaigns. I coordinated pastor breakfasts with David Barton for the RNC. I tested get out the vote strategies in MO and VA in several different campaigns. I was naively a Party (Republican) girl. Then I met Dr. Coburn. I learned quickly that the Party is not the answer. I was shocked that a man of such deep conviction and fidelity to conservative principles had a life long registered Democrat (think pro-life Reagan Democrat) as a close friend, mentor, and Congressional employee - who eventually led our Senate offices. This rocked my paradigm. Dr. Coburn was so nuanced but consistent. My fidelity began to shift away from Party affiliations, closer to the Constitution, and I became convinced that term limits were essential to change in DC. Dr. Coburn convinced me. Term limits not faithfulness to a party platform were what made Dr. Coburn so unique and effective. I had never thought or cared about term limits, but I came to see first hand working for him in the Senate and hearing his heart over and over that term limits are in fact revolutionary and effective in helping steer our country to a better place.

My world was rocked as a just out of college person to learn that the LEGENDARY Conservative Republican, who shut down committee hearings and used rules to out whit the Republican Leadership, had a Democrat policy leader in his House office and committed to running his Senate office if elected to the Senate (which turned out pretty well!). This rocked my world at the time - but I came to see the wisdom in his decisions. Definitely an out of the box type of person.

As I went around the state campaigning for him (in t-shirts with his logo), I never heard a snide comment - in fact just the opposite. People everywhere revered him. Trusted him. Dare I say loved him.

So many people organically gave and contributed to the culture and success he enjoyed. One such person was Ruth Gianta, an 80 something lady who adored Dr. Coburn. She had several of us to her home to show us video tapes of his interviews from the House days, she set a culture, shared faith in Christ, and impacted so much of what we did. She believed he was the answer to her prayers. She prayed for someone like him before he ran for Congress and she encouraged us to all be prayer warriors too.

Every Tuesday we would have a campaign volunteer night called: "Tuesday's for Tom" at the headquarters in Muskogee. The volunteers became a sort of family. Not a usual political activists but people who he had personally impacted and touched. There was a couple, that came faithfully, even though they were registered Democrats. They loved Dr. Tom because he had somehow helped the wife medically. There was a lady who he had touched by giving surgery for free because she could not afford it. A lady who told me after many nights together that the truck she drove used to be his and that she needed it to go to and from work and that he had heard of the need and gave it to her. Or the older single lady who was in the hospital with no family and she was scared so he stayed by her side all night. All. Night. Or the lady whose baby he saved during delivery. Or the firefighter who had had him as a doctor growing up and he delivered their twin boys. Story after story of people who would walk through fire for a man who did good to them.

Dr. Coburn did mini in home town hall type fundraisers. Most had small donors giving anywhere from $25 to $250. It was totally unconventional to do these but he would share his heart and answer questions. A fire was lit in the hearts of those who heart from him directly. People wanted to do all they could to help him reach the Senate and be their representative. In Atoka one day we handed out more voter registration cards, as person after person changed their party affiliation to be able to vote for Dr. Coburn. I sat with a man, a veteran, whose wife was ill and who traveled to the VA to get free treatment and collect his VA check. He talked about the high cost of gas and how he didn't know how he could get by. Later at that event the host made a pitch for everyone to reach in their pockets to give all they could. I walked around this time with donor cards. The older, veteran asked for one and carefully wrote out a check. His cursive was bumpy and he was very deliberate. He wrote the check for seventeen dollars and some change. I think it was $17.23. I immediately took off chasing down Dr. Coburn's car as he was off to another event and said, "please come meet this donor - he's given so much. Take a picture with him." And he had. He was the person Dr. Coburn carried in his heart. It was promises in homes across the state to defend and protect the Constitution that seared his heart and conscience. It was these people he never betrayed.

Usually when someone is on a high pedestal they fall and they fall hard if you give them enough time. My husband and/or I worked for Dr. Tom during the entirety of his time in office and even afterward. Our admiration and respect ended as strong as our optimism when we started, only we grew to know him as family not just as a modern day hero.

Sue Dobson, LPN (Checotah, OK):
I write you with tears in my eyes, and severe sadness in my heart, that my champion has passed.

It was my privilege to work with Dr. Coburn, at Muskogee Hospital when he started his practice.  I worked in the OR, side by side with him during C-sections, normal surgeries, and occasionally, child birth. He was the most caring, selfless, compassionate doctor I ever worked with.

Several years later, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, during a routine physical, by Dr. Coburn.   Although, I had no medical insurance at the time, he guided and made sure I received surgery, treatments, and saw me thru my cancer. This was over 20 years ago. I am still alive and well, thanks to him I have been able to see my son graduate high school, watch my grandsons being born, and watch them grow.

I also cheered for him when he went off to Washington, even though it meant losing my doctor.  He was an honest man, in  a bed of snakes.  He left his mark on many and Oklahoma was proud to call him one of ours. May he rest in peace, his faith strong and sure.  Our world is a little less, with his passing, but better for having him for the years we did.

Donna Morbitzer-Thompson:
Dr Coburn was my doctor and allergist for many years. He always gave it to you straight. I will always remember his quote, “If you don’t do anything different, nothing will change”. Such a simple true statement.

Martin Updike (Fort Gibson, OK):
Jamison, I had almost forgot about this, but it came to mind this week.   In 2006, Dr. Coburn and emerging political star Senator Barack Obama co-authored the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act.   The bill passed and a signing ceremony was set at the White House.  I was on the Coburn Staff at the time and the office only had a handful of tickets and I didn’t make the cut.  I did get the job of driving Dr. Coburn to the White House.  When we pulled up right behind Obama’s car and there was a little confusion on which gate we should go in.  Eventually a secret service car pulls out on Pennsylvania Ave and has a us follow him through the correct gate.  I dropped off Dr. Coburn and I parked the car and start talking with my Obama counterpart.  After the Secret Service Officer escorted the Senators to the signing ceremony room, he comes back out and says, “What are you guys doing just standing there?  Follow me.”  He takes us right in, with no security check whatsoever, and finds us a couple of seats in the maybe 100 seat room.  I sit down and George Bush walks in a few seconds later and the short ceremony begins.  Looking back at it, the coolest part of the story is that I was in a small room in the White House with two men that would occupy the most powerful position in the world for 16 years.       

Celeste Anderson:
Dr. Tom Coburn was my family physician until he was a congressman and a senator.  I have never stopped wishing he was my physician!!!

He cared for both of my children as babies and teenagers.  There were two (2) different times when my oldest child was a baby and toddler.  One time my oldest, Tyler has been so so sick and wasn’t getting better.  Dr Coburn told me what to do that day and told me if he wasn’t better by that evening to call and I could bring him to his house. I did not end up needing to see him and got better.  This happened two different times.

Another memorable time was when my youngest son was born.  My son and me were supposed to go home that evening.  It was getting very late. Doctor arrived in my hospital room at 10:30PM just to dismiss me from the hospital so I wouldn’t have to pay for another day.  If I had not been dismissed by 11PM I would have been charged an entire new day.  You see Dr Coburn had worked in his practice all day then after work he had to go mend fence so his cattle wouldn’t get out,  There were no other patients he came to the hospital for; just me.  How do I know?  Because I asked him.

Dr Coburn was for the people and always thought of saving money for his patients.  He had money because he earned it but looked after those with less!

He was also a man of God and loved people!  He was for the people even in government!!!

You are in a better place Tom Coburn!!!

Terry Hackworth (Fort Gibson):
My wife and I struggled to have children. Several miscarriages, pregnancy problems and specialists dominated our lives for years. Then in January of 1995 Dr. Tom Coburn delivered our first baby at 1:42am. We named him Hunter.  Dr. Tom had previously informed us that he was going to be running for Congress but that he would do everything possible to deliver our baby. He kept his word! Not only did he deliver our firstborn and several other babies that night-he stayed at the hospital until 5:00 am.  I remember talking to him in the nursery when he told me he was going to have to leave.  He commented that he had to be in Tulsa to catch a flight to D.C. because at 10:00am he was going to be inaugurated into Congress. Dr. Tom over the next five years would deliver our other two children. In 1997 he delivered Hayden and in 2000 he delivered Hannah. I am forever thankful for this Godly man and for the family that I have.  Here is one of my last family pics while visiting with our firstborn and his precious wife Hannah Jane. Rest In Peace Dr. Tom.

Angela Beck (Broken Arrow, OK):
He delivered my son and helped me through my struggles and even offered to help me find an adoptive family but instead of doing that I chose to keep him and Dr. Coburn was there for me every step of the way. No more pain, but much deserved rest now. You will be missed. 

OSDH Commissioner Urges Private Labs to Report All COVID-19 Test Results Daily to State

OSDH Commissioner Urges Private Labs to Report All COVID-19 Test Results Daily to State

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Commissioner of Health Gary Cox sent a letter Monday to remind Oklahoma’s private labs that the state earlier this month designated COVID-19 as a disease that is immediately reportable to OSDH.

In his letter, Commissioner Cox urged private labs to comply with state statute by reporting both positive COVID-19 test results and negative COVID-19 test results to ensure the agency has the full picture of the virus’ impact in Oklahoma.

“The Oklahoma State Department of Health is committed to delivering as much transparent data to the public on COVID-19 as state and federal law allows, and it is critical for private labs to help us achieve this mission by reporting daily to the agency both the positive and negative COVID-19 test results to achieve a complete picture of this virus’ impact,”  said Commissioner Cox. “In the past month, the state has expanded its public-private partnerships with multiple labs to process COVID-19 tests, and we appreciate how these partnerships have resulted in quicker insight to the number of positive cases throughout Oklahoma.”

In the letter, Commissioner Cox reminds private labs that a failure to report COVID testing results to the OSDH is subject to civil and criminal penalties.

On Monday, OSDH began providing in the Governor’s daily COVID-19 report, published by OSDH pursuant to Executive Order 2020-07, a list of agency's private lab partnerships and each lab’s processing capacity for COVID-19 tests. The list can be found on page two of the following report from March 30, 2020.

USDA waiver grants Oklahoma public school students two free meals per day

USDA approves Oklahoma’s request for free meals for all students regardless of school free and reduced lunch percentage

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 30, 2020) – Oklahoma students statewide will soon be able to access two free meals a day following a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) waiver, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced today.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) applied for the waiver March 11 and March 25 to remove the requirement that school feeding sites be located in high-need areas under the Emergency School Closure provisions of the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Approved over the weekend, the waiver grants site-area eligibility to 31 states, including Oklahoma.

Prior to the waiver, districts could provide free meals only if 50% of students at a school met eligibility for the free and reduced-price lunch program.

Hofmeister said the waiver is welcome news as districts clamor for ways to get meals to students in the midst of distance learning necessary in the wake of the global pandemic.

“Amid such uncertainty and instability, we should not be asking our families or schools to worry over needless red tape,” she said. “This waiver means that, following a simple application, any district in the state can establish feeding sites for up to two free meals a day for every student who needs one.”

Oklahoma received a swift response to its multiple waiver requests after U.S. Sen. James Lankford intervened.

The waiver is in effect until June 30, 2020, or until the federally declared public health emergency expires.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Stitt updates executive order to quarantine travelers from 6 states

Governor Stitt issues additional updates to Executive Order 2020-07
Requires travelers from six states to self-quarantine for 14 days, issues protections for health care workers and vulnerable populations

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 29, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt has issued a sixth amendment to Executive Order (EO) 2020-07, requiring travelers from six states to self-quarantine for 14 days, requiring delivery personnel to submit to screenings upon request at hospitals, clinics, long term care facilities and daycares, and protecting health care workers and their families from discrimination in housing or childcare.

“Our health care workers are the true heroes in this fight against COVID-19,” said Gov. Stitt. “These protections will continue to keep them and their families safe as they work to take care of their fellow Oklahomans.”

In accordance with the latest CDC guidelines, Sixth Amended EO 2020-07 requires travelers entering Oklahoma from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to self-quarantine at home for 14 days. This requirement also extends to anyone who has traveled from California, Louisiana or Washington.

Self-quarantine protocols include staying at home, not having visitors and practicing social distancing. Individuals who are self-quarantined and need access to groceries or medication should seek to have them delivered to their doorstep or call 211 for assistance.

Sixth Amended EO 2020-07 also requires delivery personnel to submit to screening upon request before entering any hospital, long term care facility or childcare facility. This screening would likely include a temperature check and short questionnaire about possible exposure to COVID-19.

Additionally, Sixth Amended EO 2020-07 protects health care workers and their families from discrimination related to housing or child care.

“We know how critical it is that our health care workers have access to child care so they can continue their vital life-saving work,” said Gov. Stitt. “It goes against the Oklahoma Standard to exclude families of health care workers from the services they need while they are working so hard to protect us.”

Music Monday: My Shepherd Will Supply My Need

This week's Music Monday is the Christian hymn My Shepherd Will Supply My Need, played here by the Stonebriar Community Church Orchestra. The lyrics (based on Psalm 23) are by Isaac Watts, the father of English hymnody, while the melody is an old American folk tune.

This version is arranged by Dan Goeller, a composer whose phenomal arrangements I got to play during my time in the Tulsa Bible Church orchestra in my teens and early twenties.

See below for all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to suggest for a future Music Monday? Email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

My shepherd will supply my need:
Jehovah is His name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy’s sake,
In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay;
One word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be mine abode,
And all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home.

March 23rd, 2020: How Firm A Foundation
February 17th, 2020: Wayfaring Stranger
February 3rd, 2020: My City Was Gone (Rush Limbaugh theme song)
January 27th, 2020: My Next Thirty Years
January 20th, 2020: Music for the Royal Fireworks
January 13th, 2020: Overture from The Cowboys
January 6th, 2020: I Am Resolved
December 23rd, 2019: Angels We Have Heard On High
December 16th, 2019: I Wonder As I Wander
December 9th, 2019: O Come, All Ye Faithful
December 2nd, 2019: I Saw Three Ships
November 25th, 2019: Count Your Blessings
November 18th, 2019: Poor Wayfaring Stranger
November 11th, 2019: Over There
November 4th, 2019: Great Speckled Bird
October 28th, 2019: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 14th, 2019: Batman Theme
September 30th, 2019: These Are My People (Johnny Cash)
September 23rd, 2019: Pictures at an Exhibition (Great Gate of Kiev)
September 16th, 2019: The Streets of Laredo (Piano Puzzler)
September 9th, 2019: I'm Ready To Go
August 26th, 2019: It Is Not Death To Die
August 5th, 2019: 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)
July 29th, 2019: Let It Be Said Of Us
July 15th, 2019: Bach's "Little" Fugue in G Minor
July 8th, 2019: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name
July 1st, 2019: Medley of Sousa Marches
June 24th, 2019: Seventy-Six Trombones
June 17th, 2019: I Want To Be That Man
June 3rd, 2019: "Les Toreadors" from 'Carmen'
May 20th, 2019: Lonesome Road
May 13th, 2019: Mr. Mom
April 29th, 2019: Have Faith in God (Muskogee's hymn)
April 15th, 2019: The Government Can
March 25th, 2019: Transcendental Étude No. 4, "Mazeppa"
March 18th, 2019: St. Patrick's Day in the Morning
March 11th, 2019: What Wondrous Love is This
March 4th, 2019: Scandinavian Waltz
February 18th, 2019: Adagio for Strings
February 11th, 2019: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'
February 4th, 2019: Columbia, Gem of the Ocean
January 7th, 2019: Loch Lomond
December 31st, 2018: Auld Lang Syne
December 24th, 2018: Remember O, thou Man
December 17th, 2018: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
December 10th, 2018: Carol of the Bells (medley)
December 3rd, 2018: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
November 26th, 2018: Happy Birthday
November 19th, 2018: My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness
November 12th, 2018: Hymn to the Fallen
October 29th, 2018: A Mighty Fortress is Our God
October 22nd, 2018: Hymn to Red October
October 15th, 2018:  Indian Reservation ("Cherokee People")
October 8th, 2018: Wagner's 'Columbus Overture'
October 1st, 2018: Danny Boy
September 24th, 2018: Dvorak's 'From The New World' Symphony, 4th Movement
September 17th, 2018: Deep River
September 10th, 2018: Muleskinner Blues
September 3rd, 2018: Boomer Sooner
August 20th, 2018: Psalm 23
August 13th, 2018: Ashokan Farewell
August 6, 2018: How the West Was Won
July 23rd, 2018: I Just Can't Wait to Be King
July 16th, 2018: 'Jupiter' from 'The Planets'
July 9th, 2018: Hail to the Spirit of Liberty
July 2nd, 2018: Turn The Tide
June 25th, 2018: Good Guys Win
June 18th, 2018: Watching You
June 11th, 2018: Adoration
June 4th, 2018: March from 'A Moorside Suite'
May 28th, 2018: Taps
May 21st, 2018: Listz's La Campanella
May 14th, 2018: Handful of Weeds
May 7th, 2018: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
April 30th, 2018: Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53 ("Heroic")
April 23rd, 2018: Blow Ye The Trumpet
April 16th, 2018: Asturias (Leyenda)
April 9th, 2018: Old Mountain Dew
April 2nd, 2018: His Life For Mine
March 19th, 2018: See, the Conqu'ring Hero Comes!
March 12th, 2018: Choctaw Nation
March 5th, 2018: Hark, I Hear The Harps Eternal
February 19th, 2018: The Olympic Spirit
February 12th, 2018: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
January 29th, 2018: Hail to the Chief
January 23rd, 2018: Waltz in A-Flat Major, Op. 39 No. 15
January 15th, 2018: Bleed The Same
January 8th, 2018: Saint-Saëns' Symphony No.3 'Organ' (Maestoso)
December 25th, 2017: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 18th, 2017: I Saw Three Ships (The Piano Guys)
December 11th, 2017:Who Is He In Yonder Stall
December 4th, 2017: Carol of the Bells (Mannheim Steamroller)
November 27th, 2017: Joy to the World!
November 20th, 2017: We Gather Together
November 13th, 2017: Mansions of the Lord
November 6th, 2017: Träumerei
October 30th: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 23rd, 2017: In Christ Alone
October 16th, 2017: When I'm Knee Deep In Bluegrass
October 9th, 2017: I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb
October 2nd, 2017: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major (Brahms)
September 25th, 2017: Beethoven's Sonata No. 8 in C minor ('Pathétique')
September 11th, 2017: Have You Forgotten?
September 4th, 2017: Bach's Double Violin Concerto
August 28th, 2017: Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord
August 21st, 2017: The Heavens Are Telling The Glory of God
August 14th, 2017: Beethoven's 5th Symphony
August 7th, 2017: 'Lift High The Name Of Jesus' medley
July 31st, 2017: Fanfare for the Common Man
July 24th, 2017: Variations on 'Happy Birthday'
July 10th, 2017: Summer (Presto) from Vivaldi's Four Seasons
July 3rd, 2017: Freelance Fireworks Hall of Fame
June 26th, 2017: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
June 19th, 2017: A Christian Home
June 12th, 2017: Ol' Man River
June 5th, 2017: Choctaw Cowboy
May 29th, 2017: Armed Forces Salute
May 22nd, 2017: Double Bass Concerto No.2 in B minor
May 15th, 2017: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D major
May 8th, 2017: The Army Goes Rolling Along
April 17th, 2017: He Is Alive
April 10th, 2017: Surely He Hath Borne/And With His Stripes/All We Like Sheep
April 3rd, 2017: Here Comes Carolina
March 27th, 2017: 'Spring' from Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons'
March 20th, 2017: Symphony No. 5 ("Reformation") Finale
March 13th, 2017: The Pigeon on the Gate
March 6th, 2017: Finlandia
February 27th, 2017: When I Can Read My Title Clear
February 20th, 2017: William Tell Overture - Finale
February 13th, 2017: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'
February 6th, 2017: White Winter Hymnal
January 30th, 2017: Hail, Columbia
January 23rd, 2017: Hail to the Chief
January 16th, 2017: Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
January 2nd, 2017: Auld Lang Syne
December 26th, 2016: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
December 19th, 2016: I Wonder as I Wander
December 12th, 2016: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
December 5th, 2016: A Christmas Festival
November 28th, 2016: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
November 21st: Beethoven's 'Hymn of Thanksgiving'
November 14th: Hymn to the Fallen
November 7th: This World Is Not My Home
October 31st, 2016: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 24th, 2016: 'Mars', from 'The Planets'
October 17th, 2016: My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
October 10th, 2016: Spain
October 3rd, 2016: International Harvester
September 26th, 2016: 'The Imperial March' from Star Wars
September 19th, 2016: Awake the Trumpet's Lofty Sound
September 12th, 2016: Before the Throne of God Above
September 5th, 2016: The Hunt
August 29th, 2016: Liberty
August 22nd, 2016: Summon the Heroes
August 15th, 2016: Bugler's Dream
August 8th, 2016: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
August 1st, 2016: 'Prelude' and 'Parade of the Charioteers' from Ben-Hur
July 25th, 2016: How The West Was Won
July 18th, 2016: Six Studies in English Folk Song
July 11th, 2016: From Everlasting To Everlasting
July 4th, 2016: The Stars and Stripes Forever
June 27th, 2016: Rule, Britannia!
June 20st, 2016: Bugler's Holiday
June 13th, 2016: Ride of the Valkyries
June 6th, 2016: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, Allegro Vivace
May 30th, 2016: Armed Forces Salute
May 23rd, 2016: Paid in Full (Through Jesus, Amen)
May 16th, 2016: Overture from 'Carmen'
May 9th, 2016: L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1 - Prelude
May 2nd, 2016: My God Is a Rock
April 25th, 2016: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
April 18th, 2016: Paganini's Caprice No. 24 in A Minor
April 11th, 2016: Fantasia on a 17th Century Tune
April 4th, 2016: Hark The Sound/I'm a Tarheel Born
March 28th, 2016: Rustle of Spring
March 21st, 2016: 'Ode to Joy' sung by a 10,000-voice choir
March 14th, 2016: Hard Times Come Again No More
March 7th, 2016: 'The Suite' from Downton Abbey
February 29th, 2016: Moonlight Sonata
February 22nd, 2016: Liebestraum No. 3
February 15th, 2016: Help Is On The Way
February 8th, 2016: God of Grace and God of Glory
February 1st, 2016: 'My Story'
January 25th, 2016: Israeli Concertino
January 18th, 2016: What Grace is Mine
January 11th, 2016: "Meditation" from Thaïs
January 4th, 2016: Praeludium and Allegro
December 28th, 2015: Appalachian Carol
December 21st, 2015: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 14th, 2015: O Holy Night
December 7th, 2015: Christmas Fantasy
November 23rd, 2015: Simple Gifts
November 16th, 2015: Preacher Tell Me Like It Is
November 9th, 2015: Armed Forces Salute
November 2nd, 2015: Amazing Grace
October 26th, 2015: The Harmonious Blacksmith
October 19th, 2015: Liberty Fanfare
October 12th, 2015: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name
October 5th, 2015: Elgar's 'Enigma' Finale
September 28th, 2015: Stayed on Jesus
September 21st, 2015: Great Gate of Kiev
September 14th, 2015: Nearer, My God, To Thee

State Rep. Baker discusses public education options during COVID-19 closure

Baker Details Education Options

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Rhonda Baker (R-Yukon), chair of the House Common Education Committee, today commented on education options that are being provided for Oklahoma public school students after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of public school facilities.

Schools initially were closed through April 6, tacking an extra week onto spring break. The State Board of Education met last week to determine that public school buildings would remain closed for the remainder of the current school year but instructed schools to begin planning distance-learning options for each of their students.

“For many students, this will involve some type of online learning,” Baker said. “For others that have limited or no internet access, their districts are meeting to plan curriculum options and ways to distribute homework packets to each student. Districts are involving their teachers in the process. Our goal is for students to be able to continue learning so when this crisis is over, they can move forward into their next grade without being behind in their studies.”

Baker said in addition to traditional schoolwork, students that are taking Advance Placement (AP) through College Board will be able to continue those courses for free online with at-home exams so they can continue to earn the college credit toward which they’ve been working.

Resources include at home digital testing that will focus on what most schools were able to complete by early March. Students will be able to take exams on any device to which they have access, a computer, tablet or smartphone. They also will have the option to write their responses by hand and submit a photo.

Students also can access free online review courses delivered by AP teachers from across the country.

Details on AP are available here: https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/coronavirus-updates.

College Board also is working to help students with connectivity issues. Students who need mobile tools or connectivity can request help by going to: https://collegeboard.tfaforms.net/74.

Baker said she also was pleased that the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority has adjusted its daytime schedule to provide curriculum-based programming for students on its broadcast channel, OETA World. More information and program schedules can be found here: http://www.oeta.tv/blogs/education/distance-learning-with-oeta/.

“It has been encouraging to see teachers and parents work together as a team to continue the important work of educating our students,” Baker said. “I appreciate the efforts of each of them during this unique time in history.”

Rhonda Baker serves District 60 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes parts of Caddo and Canadian counties. 

Governor orders flags to half-staff in remembrance of Dr. Tom Coburn

Governor Stitt orders flags flown at half-staff in remembrance of former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 30, 2020) – Gov. Kevin Stitt has ordered all American and Oklahoma flags on state property to be lowered to half-staff today to honor the life and memory of former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, who passed away Saturday at age 72.

“We lost a giant [Saturday] – an Oklahoma legend,” said Gov. Stitt. “Dr. Coburn devoted his life to serving others both by way of his career as a physician and by tirelessly fighting for our country as a true statesman.

“Our state and our nation is better because of the lessons in fiscal responsibility we’ve learned from Dr. Coburn and I pray especially in these trying times ahead of us that we can find ways to ensure his legacy lives on.”

A memorial service will be announced in the coming weeks.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

1889 Institute: Oklahoma elections, for insiders only?

Oklahoma Elections: For Insiders Only?
By Mike Davis

When is election day? You probably assume it’s the first Tuesday in November. That makes sense, since that’s the date for statewide and federal elections. Would it surprise you to learn that there was an election in Oklahoma every single month in 2019? Not every district has an election every month. That would be a hassle. But the local election schedule is far less predictable.

On first glance it appears that Oklahoma allows government bodies to change lawmakers and raise taxes through oddly scheduled, poorly noticed elections on whichever Tuesday they want. In reality there are “only” 15 days per year when local elections can be scheduled. And the party in power sets the date of their election. School boards and localities can select a Tuesday in July when people are on vacation, or in December when the rush of the holidays is upon us. In either case, voter turnout is likely to be low. A few stalwart supporters could easily carry the day. The other citizens impacted by the vote may be completely unaware of its timing or existence. It is left to the county election board to determine how to let voters in their district know about the times and dates of elections.

This is no way to run a democracy. Majority rule and the consent of the governed are the touchstones of American political life. Only by scheduling elections at well-noticed times can Oklahomans be truly be heard and represented. Scheduling elections when no one expects them so that employees of the local government can swing the vote is, at best, undemocratic and, in reality, a sham.

All school board elections should occur on the same day across the state. Likewise, all county and municipal elections should happen on the same day. Any ballot measure impacting a subdivision should also occur on the same day as elections for its officials.

At the very least, we should require actual notice, such as mailers to every household for each election scheduled. This would ensure that election dates are not burdensome to the average voter, that all citizens are aware of the elections that could affect their household, and that the citizens’ will is made law, not the establishment’s. The cost of such notice would also incentivize localities and school boards to work together to hold elections on the same day, or better yet, find a way to hold them on the days of the statewide primary and general elections.

Voter turnout is not something the state can or should control. Decisions are made by those who show up. But we can and must ensure that elections are publicized enough that those who care to show up, can show up.

Mike Davis is a Research Fellow at 1889 Institute. He can be reached at mdavis@1889institute.org. 

Oklahoma leaders pay tribute to Dr. Tom Coburn

Following the passing of Dr. Tom Coburn this morning, tributes are pouring in from Oklahoma elected officials and leaders. I'm sure I'll have more come in as the weekend progresses, but for now, here are comments from the following:

  • Sen. Jim Inhofe
  • Rep. Tom Cole
  • Sen. James Lankford
  • State Senate President Greg Treat
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt
  • Attorney General Mike Hunter
  • Rep. Kevin Hern
  • The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
  • State House Speaker Charles McCall
  • Rep. Frank Lucas
Inhofe Statement on the Passing of Former Senator, Dr. Tom Coburn

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) made the following statement after learning of the passing of former Senator, Dr. Tom Coburn:

“There was no one like Dr. Tom Coburn—in the Senate or in Oklahoma,” Inhofe said. “He was respected by everyone for a lot of things—as a medical doctor, an intellectual, a fearless advocate against government waste, a sought after advisor —but more than that, he was a brother in Christ. I was honored to serve the people of Oklahoma with him, and Kay and I are praying for Carolyn and the rest of his family in their time of grief. He will be missed by Oklahoma and the nation.”

Cole Mourns Loss of Dr. Tom Coburn

Moore, OK – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after learning about the passing of Dr. Tom Coburn, a beloved Oklahoman who previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives and most recently in the U.S. Senate.

“It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of my former colleague in Congress and client, Dr. Tom Coburn. He was an Oklahoma original – a politician who hated politics. He disliked campaigns, but he never lost an election. Voters appreciated his strong conservative views, his candor and his honesty as a person,” said Cole.

“Tom felt a strong call to serve his fellow Oklahomans as both a physician and an elected official. He did both with genuine personal integrity. In Oklahoma and far beyond, Tom became a legendary figure who fiercely fought for what he believed in and what he thought was best for future generations of Americans. And he did so with great conviction and resolve.

“I extend my deepest sympathy to Tom’s devoted wife Carolyn and his close-knit family. Nothing gave Tom more pleasure and pride than his loving and talented children and grandchildren. His family truly brought him the greatest joy in life. I offer them all my prayers for their loss, and I wish them God’s healing in this time of tremendous grief and sorrow.”

Lankford Remembers the Legacy of Former US Senator Tom Coburn

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK –Senator James Lankford (R-OK) issued the following statement on the passing of former-Oklahoma US Senator Tom Coburn, M.D.:

“Oklahoma has lost a tremendous leader, and I lost a great friend today. Dr. Coburn was an inspiration to many in our state and our nation. He was unwavering in his conservative values, but he had deep and meaningful friendships with people from all political and personal backgrounds. He was truly respected by people on both sides of the aisle.

“Dr. Coburn will be remembered by many around the country for his work in Congress, but in Oklahoma, he will be remembered as a physician, a Sunday School teacher, and a mentor. He delivered over 4,000 babies and cared for thousands of moms in Muskogee. His greatest joy was his wife Carolyn and his daughters Callie, Katie, and Sarah and their families. Cindy and I pray for the Coburn family as they walk through this incredibly hard journey. They have lost a husband, father, and grandfather; we have lost a friend and a leader.”

Senate leader Greg Treat comments on passing of former US Senator Tom Coburn

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat commented on the passing of former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn:

“One of the greatest honors of my life was to have known and worked for Dr. Tom Coburn. He was a mentor to me and lived out a great example of how to serve with conviction, honor and compassion. Whether it was fighting for the unborn or the next generation of Americans, he was unshakeable in his convictions, regardless of the extreme political or public pressures, and was successful in pulling America back to its core values and principles."

"He was a man of God devoted to his family and friends, and not afraid to let anyone know that. I’m saddened by his passing, and my heart is with his family and all those who had the great fortune to have worked for him over the years. Besides family, no one has had a more profound impact on my life than Tom Coburn. His impact on our nation was real and his legacy lives on through all of those who were blessed to know and learn from him.”

Treat said in college he earned a internship in Washington, D.C, and went to work for Coburn, who served as congressman for the Second District of Oklahoma at the time. Treat said that experience inspired him to think about public service. In 2004, Treat served as regional director on Coburn’s successful run for U.S. Senate and went on to work as state government liaison for Coburn in the U.S. Senate.


“We lost a giant today – an Oklahoma legend. Dr. Coburn devoted his life to serving others both by way of his career as a physician and by tirelessly fighting for our country as a true statesman.

Our state and our nation are better because of the lessons in fiscal responsibility we’ve learned from Dr. Coburn and I pray especially in these trying times ahead of us that we can find ways to ensure his legacy lives on.”

 Attorney General Hunter Comments on the Passing of Former Sen. Tom Coburn

OKLAHOMA CITY - Attorney General Mike Hunter today released the following statement on the passing of former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.

"Former Sen. Tom Coburn was an accomplished man, husband, father, doctor, leader and politician. He served our state in both chambers of Congress with dignity and distinction.

"I was privileged to know Tom as a friend and colleague. He was a man of principle and dauntless in his pursuit of conservative policy objectives. I often thought of him as the embodiment of Theodore Roosevelt's Man in the Arena comment in his Citizenship in a Republic speech, which surmised that the credit belongs to the man who dares greatly.

"Despite the partisan divide in Washington, Tom managed to earn respect on both sides of the political aisle. He spent his legislative career as an ardent supporter of pro-life policies, second amendment rights, healthcare reform and fighting against wasteful government spending.

"My wife Cheryl and I send our deepest condolences to the Coburn family during their time of mourning.

"Well done good and faithful servant. Matthew 25:23."

Hern statement in memory of Sen. Tom Coburn

TULSA, OK – Representative Kevin Hern (OK-01) released the following statement after the passing of former Senator Tom Coburn.

“Senator Tom Coburn was a great leader and a great man,” said Rep. Hern. “More than that, he was a dear friend and mentor to me long before I ever dreamed of entering politics. He lived a truly Christ-centered life, for this I am glad that his suffering is over and he is at peace with our Lord. I mourn his loss today along with the family, friends, and thousands of Oklahomans who knew and loved him. I will see you again one day, my friend.”

OCPA comments on passing of Dr. Tom Coburn

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 28, 2020)—Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, issued the following statement today in response to the passing of Dr. Tom Coburn.

“History will rank Dr. Coburn among Oklahoma’s greatest leaders. His unwavering adherence to principle, even in the face of intense political pressure, is why he will be remembered as a true statesman. At OCPA, we were blessed to have Dr. Coburn serve on our board, where his insight and leadership was invaluable. While all Oklahomans share in this loss today, Dr. Coburn’s legacy will live on in the countless lives he directly impacted, both as a doctor and a stateman, and the even larger number who remain inspired by his example. For those who ask if a conservative can remain true to his principles once in office, there will forever be an answer: Yes. Tom Coburn showed it could be done, and he blazed a path others can follow.”

STATEMENT: Speaker McCall comments on passing of Tom Coburn

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, issued the following statement on the passing of former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn:

“Tom Coburn embodied Oklahoma because he stood fearlessly firm on his principles, whether that meant standing alone or standing with the crowd. A true citizen legislator, he was a force for change whose legacy will stay with us always. He was successful in politics, medicine and business, but never forgot his faith in Jesus Christ. My family has his in our prayers during this difficult time.”

Lucas on Passing of U.S. Senator Tom Coburn

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) released the following statement after learning of the passing of U.S. Senator Tom Coburn:

“‪I am saddened to hear the news of the passing of Senator Tom Coburn. His impact on the state of Oklahoma and Washington, D.C. will be long-standing.

The Coburn family remains in the thoughts and prayers of my wife, Lynda, myself, and all of Oklahoma.”

Oklahoma statesman Dr. Tom Coburn passes at age 72

Oklahoma has lost one of its greatest adopted sons, with the death of Tom Coburn.

Husband. Father. Christian. Employer. Student. Physician. Congressman. Senator. Conservative. Oklahoman. Patriot. These were all labels held by Thomas Allen Coburn during his 72-year long life.

Born in Wyoming, Coburn graduated from Muskogee High School in 1966, married former Miss Oklahoma Carolyn Denton in 1968, and Oklahoma State University with a degree in Accounting in 1970. For most of the 1970s, Coburn worked in the family business, Coburn Optical Industries, in Virginia, growing the company to prominance in its industry.

After a bout with malignant melanoma, Coburn turned his tremendous focus and energy to what became his most iconic and defining role, that of physician. At the age of 35, Dr. Coburn graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine with a M.D., opening a private family practice in Muskogee the following year.

Over the rest of his medical career, Dr. Coburn delivered over 4,000 babies in Muskogee, including yours truly and my sister. The number of families that Dr. Coburn touched and impacted through his role as a physician numbers in the tens of thousands.

In 1994, Dr. Coburn transitioned yet again to another role, that of citizen legislator. He became the first Republican since Alice Robertson (elected to one term in 1920) to hold Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional District.

A hardcore conservative in every aspect, Coburn was a pro-life champion and advocate for fiscal discipline.

Dr. Coburn hit the United States House of Representatives like an Oklahoma tornado, tearing into wasteful spending with an unprecedented ferocity. His focus on attacking legislation congressional pork barrel spending and wasteful appropriations gave him the moniker 'Dr. No'. He was a "Tea Party radical" fifteen years before the movement emerged.

A man of character and integrity, Dr. Coburn made a pledge to serve no more than three terms in the U.S. House. Of the dozens of members who made the same pledge, he was one of just a handful who actually kept their word.

Dr. Coburn returned to his medical practice after leaving the House, but in 2004 he returned to politics when he was elected to the United States Senate. His Senate tenure mirrored that of his House service. Doctor No was back in service, blocking wasteful spending bills with a vengeance. Dr. Coburn was the leading fiscal conservative in the Senate for the ten years that he served.

A citizen legislator, during his time in the House and Senate, Dr. Tom continued practicing medicine. Due to ethics rules, Dr. Coburn essentially paid out of pocket for the privilege of continuing to serve his patients, barred from receiving any profit.

Protecting freedom and fiscal security for America's children and grandchildren motivated Dr. Coburn to warn about the dangerously increasing national debt. He constantly made the bankrupting national debt a focus of his warnings for the future, authoring two books that made the topic a central theme.

His use of the Senate hold on pork-barrel spending was legendary and record-breaking, angering both Democrats and Republicans. A direct result of his long efforts, congressional earmarking eventually came to an end.

Frustration with Senate gridlock and refusal to exercise any fiscal restraint led Dr. Coburn to the conclusion that he could better effect fiscal awareness and change as a private citizen, leading to his resignation from the Senate in 2014.

Cancer, the factor that drove Coburn into medicine, continued to plague him, as he survived bouts with melanoma, colon, and prostate cancer, the latter of which he fought off and on since 2011.

Tom Coburn passed away today at his home in Tulsa from complications relating to his long-running battle with prostate cancer, according to close associates. Services will be announced later.

Doctor Coburn was our family physician, a carpet cleaning customer, and a family friend. I am grateful and better for having known and interacted with him.

Oklahoma has lost a true statesman, a son of which she can be forever proud. He will be sorely missed.

Farewell, Doctor Tom.

In closing, here is his farewell address to the United States Senate. It's well worth the watch.

P.S. Have a memory or tribute about Dr. Coburn that you'd be willing to share? Send it to JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

OSU lab on Stillwater campus to assist state with COVID-19 test analysis

OSU lab on Stillwater campus to assist state with COVID-19 test analysis

(STILLWATER, Oklahoma - March 27, 2020) – Oklahoma State University is helping Oklahoma ramp up its COVID-19 testing capability after procuring supplies sufficient to analyze approximately 10,000 COVID-19 test samples being taken by health care professionals across the state.

Through coordination with partners from the OSU Center for Health Sciences, the lab has been certified by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to run the tests for COVID-19. In partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), OSU’s certified diagnostic laboratory has the personnel and equipment to begin testing next week.

“Oklahoma State University has done incredible work to quickly find innovative ways to help our state significantly increase its COVID-19 testing capacity,” said Governor Kevin Stitt. “Secretary Shrum has been an invaluable member of my Governor’s Solution Task Force, and I commend President Hargis and her for answering the call to help their fellow Oklahomans.”

Individuals will need to get the initial swab administered by a medical professional. Health care providers will be notified by the OSDH next week regarding how to submit sample test samples.

“We are pleased to support the state’s extensive efforts to blunt the spread of this virus. I commend the innovation of our researchers and administrators to find ways we can use our experts and resources to overcome the challenges we face as this crisis evolves, ” said OSU President Burns Hargis. “Both OSU and OSU Center for Health Sciences experts are committed to doing our part to protect Oklahomans during this public health crisis.”

Dr. Kenneth Sewell, vice president for research at OSU, said the university is uniquely prepared to take part in the statewide effort to accelerate testing.

“We will be able to test hundreds of samples in an eight-hour shift,” he said. “If necessary, our lab can increase our capability to additional shifts.

“All of our universities in the state play different roles, but only a few of us are research universities and have this kind of equipment, have the faculty that are trained up in this with staff and graduate assistants. Everything they do at a research level is meant to have a positive impact on the public, but it’s a rare time when we can put that impact in play almost in real time. This is going to matter today and tomorrow, and we think that’s why we’re here.”

OCPA column: Saving works. What a surprise (to government “experts”)!

Saving works. What a surprise (to government “experts”)!
By Jonathan Small

Some special-interest groups suggest tax increases are the only way to deal with budget shortfalls. But Oklahomans are benefitting from a far better, preemptive solution: Saving money during boom years.

Last year, when the state had around $600 million in growth revenue, legislators were analyzing proposed ideas to increase spending. Gov. Kevin Stitt recommended setting aside $200 million of that total, a goal many lawmakers embraced.

Most families, upon receipt of an unexpected financial windfall, see the wisdom of cubby-holing some money rather than using it to increase ongoing expenses. No one buys a new house on the theory that a one-time bonus will cover the higher annual costs of a larger house payment. Yet that’s how government often operates.

Thus, Stitt’s proposal left some officials in shock.

Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso, argued, “I don’t believe we’ll have another economic downturn over the next few years. It’s just too early to start creating new savings accounts and putting money in new savings accounts.”

Sen. Allison Ikley-Freeman, D-Tulsa, said, “People are dying in the state of Oklahoma, and we’re putting money in savings for another day, for ‘just in case.’”

The Tahlequah Daily Press reported in July that Rep. Matt Meredith, D-Tahlequah, was negatively referring to the $200 million as “the governor’s slush fund.”

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest declared it was “discouraging that the budget puts $200 million into savings when we could have made a bigger investment in our schools, our students and our future.”

Despite those complaints, the bill setting $200 million into savings passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives 92-0 and cleared the Senate 37-9.

Today, due to falling oil prices and the COVID-19/coronavirus event, the state faces large shortfalls. The current-year budget may fall up to $200 million below what was appropriated. Projections suggest lawmakers will have around $600 million less to appropriate next year than what was originally appropriated for 2020 (and things may get worse).

As Stitt recently noted, being “very fiscally responsible” even when “everything looked rosy” last year has left the state with “the largest savings account” in Oklahoma history—a total of $1 billion in savings.

“That’s significant,” Stitt said, “and it’s going to help us get through this down time.”

Yes, it will. The savings decried by the teachers’ union may now protect teachers from mid-year budget cuts at schools and avoid education cuts next year. The “just in case” money decried by some may now preserve funding for Oklahoma’s health needs during a pandemic. And Oklahomans will be protected from another round of tax increases at a time when thousands are losing their jobs.

So-called “experts” often claim government financing isn’t comparable to household budgeting. The benefit of last year’s saving effort proves the “experts” are wrong, and Oklahomans should thank the policymakers who embraced savings.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.