Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thoughtful Approach to Oklahoma's Challenges

DURANT, Okla. – Hello again, everybody! Throughout the remainder of November and all of December, the pace will continue to quicken as we get ready for the 2009 session of the Oklahoma Legislature.

This week, newly elected members of the Senate and House will be sworn into office and the first bills will be filed for consideration when the Legislature convenes in February.

Clearly, this is a time in which there are great challenges ahead for our nation and our state. For Oklahoma, the top challenge will be to keep our economy as strong as possible in light of a likely national economic slowdown.

The worst thing we can do is employ what I call the “spaghetti against the wall” strategy, where we throw everything we have against the wall in hopes something will stick. I believe a thoughtful approach is more effective.

We in the Legislature owe it to the people of this state to carefully consider the policy initiatives and enact those that will truly strengthen Oklahoma’s economy. While we should carefully consider proposals, we must be bold in our efforts to strengthen our state.

That is the process that has served our state well. It is how we pulled ourselves out of the economic downturn that gripped Oklahoma in 2002 and 2003. It worked then, and it will work in this current difficult time.

In fact, many of the policies we have enacted over the past several years helped Oklahoma’s economy to remain stronger than the national economy. From revamping our tax structure to encouraging natural gas exploration and production, the result has been a stronger economy and greater opportunity for all Oklahomans.

Nothing at the Capitol can be accomplished without bipartisan support. The question everyone has about the 2009 session is this: Will the session be about advancing the interests of political parties or will it be about advancing the interests of Oklahomans?

There are fierce partisans on both sides of the political aisle, and they have their place. However, neither political party is always right on every issue. Because of that, there are those of us – Republicans and Democrats alike – who always have been willing to reach across the aisle to move our state forward.

At the end of the day, there is more that unites us than there is to divide us. We will have fierce discussions and we will struggle with contentious issues. Still, Oklahoma families struggling to make ends meet are more interested in results than they are in which political party scores the most points in some debate.

We must strengthen Oklahoma, ensuring every family has a chance to enjoy the blessings of liberty. That principle always will guide me as I stand for the values we share and the future of which we dream.

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

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