MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

January 25, 2014

THE PEOPLE SPEAK — What are conservatives conserving?

While reading the Sunday, Jan. 19 Muskogee Phoenix, two things caught my eye. The first was a story about cuts in education. Study after study has shown that investment in education has a very high rate of return. Witness the economic returns from the education provided by the G.I. bill after World War II.

Studies have shown that an educated work force ranks higher than low taxes in decisions to locate businesses in Oklahoma. Nevertheless our governor and legislative leaders have seen fit to cut funds for education.

Secondly, on the editorial page an editorial headed “Politics trumped sense in state prison policy” lays out the story of the “Justice Reinvestment Initiative” (JRI). This act by the 2012 Legislature was modeled after programs by Texas and dozens of other states. Texas cut prison population to the extent that they closed a prison. JRI showed the potential to save some of the $460 million spent yearly on Oklahoma prisons. But after one year funding was cut.

Emails by government officials obtained by the Tulsa World, The Oklahoman and the Associated Press indicated that politicians thought they could be labeled soft on crime so JRI didn’t happen as planned. At least we know that Oklahoma is very “conservative.” I am not sure what we are conserving.

ROBERT A. WEAVER

Muskogee

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