Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Could Be the Best of Times, the Worst of Times

By Senator Jay Paul Gumm

Hello again, everybody! As the 2008 session of the Oklahoma Legislature nears, I am asked what it will be like. A simple question for which there is no simple answer.

This could be one of the best and most productive sessions in our state’s history. We have on the table visionary and hopeful proposals to make Oklahoma better for ourselves and generations yet unborn.

Bills have been filed that would make Oklahoma a healthier state, a better educated and more prosperous state, and a safer state. Proposals are out there that truly would change lives for the better.

Our greatest responsibility is to ensure our children have greater and better opportunities than we enjoyed. That responsibility has been met by every generation of Americans, and certainly Oklahoma is no different.

Every generation of Oklahomans has built a better future for those who followed. We have overcome natural disasters, financial collapses and challenges few other states have endured. We overcame and built the foundation for a better future. That test now falls to the 2008 session of the Legislature.

There is always the other side of the coin. This year’s session could just as easily be of the least fruitful sessions ever. With the rhetoric and venom being tossed between the two political parties, almost everyone is lowering expectations for this session.

An increasingly bitter partisan divide is on the table alongside visionary dreams and hopeful plans. This is an election year in which control of the Legislature is on the line, intensifying the natural and honest differences between the two political parties.

The rhetoric is at a fever pitch, and it is still two weeks before we return to the Capitol. It appears some are focusing on securing victory for a political party instead of capitalizing on opportunities to build a brighter future.

Elections are important; that is where we the people express our will about the direction of the state. Sadly, this year’s elections appear to be motivation for finger pointing and “gotcha” games. I have been working in public service for more than two decades and I have never seen as bitter partisanship as that which exists today.

Oklahomans expect us in the Legislature to keep the focus on proposals to improve the lives of the people we represent. For me, I have always worked with members of both political parties to enact policies that are good for all of Oklahoma.

It is far more important to enact good policies than to worry about who gets the credit or whose name comes first on the bill. Those things work out, because Oklahomans see through political smoke.

If the Legislature fails to focus on the future, then this session will be a failure. Oklahomans surely deserve better than that.

Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute,” have a great week and may God bless you all.

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