Hello again, everyone! One of the greatest quotes about the role of government comes from former Vice President Hubert Humphrey.
He said, “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
Few statements have so clearly expressed the moral issues every government faces. The work to write the state’s budget, the most critical job the Legislature has, is in large measure an effort to meet that moral test. More money is spent on children, elderly and the sick than on the rest of state government combined.
That fact speaks well of Oklahoma’s commitment to generations past and those yet unborn. It is generations to come which place before us the greatest challenges. Not only do we hold this state in trust for them, we have to anticipate the challenges they will face, giving them the best chance to meet those challenges.
This week, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) released its report on the 2009 session of the Oklahoma Legislature. OICA said, in general, this session was very good for children, youth and families.
No matter how successful the session was, I strongly believe we must do better as a state by marshalling the resources we have and using them more effectively. To that end, Lt. Gov. Jari Askins asked me to sponsor a bill containing her proposal for a Children’s Cabinet.
The Children’s Cabinet would have been comprised of the directors of every state agency and a number of public interest groups charged with improving the quality of life for our children. The cabinet would have met quarterly to focus on Oklahoma’s children.
It was a simple plan that would have led to better children’s policies at virtually no cost to taxpayers, facts understood by every member of the Oklahoma Senate, Republican and Democrat alike. The Children’s Cabinet proposal passed the Senate unanimously – twice.
As with so many bills that truly would have improved the quality of life for Oklahoma’s children, the House of Representatives leadership refused to even consider the proposal. What was the motive for their unreasonable opposition? There are only two answers.
Either they truly do not believe we should find ways to improve the quality of life for children, or they are more interested in partisan politics, denying a legislative victory to a lieutenant governor from the other party. Neither answer is sufficient; neither reflects the values of Oklahomans.
This battle for Oklahoma’s children is not over. For as long as I serve as your senator, I will continue to do everything possible to improve the quality of life for today’s children and the generations yet unborn.
Thanks again for reading this week’s “Senate Minute.” Have a great week, and may God bless you all.