MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

March 20, 2013

THE PEOPLE SPEAK — Education needs come before wild horses

— Amid the talk of whether to slaughter horses, let’s take a minute to consider our priorities.

Our education system has been in a state of perpetual funding reduction for many years. Schools are struggling just to keep the doors open. Buildings need repair, classrooms are overcrowded with not enough teachers and not enough books. State and federal agencies have tried to solve the education crisis by imposing more and more unfunded mandates on our schools. Now our schools are losing even more revenue to the sequester. Estimates on the Oklahoma Department of Education website reflect that Oklahoma schools alone face $27 million in cuts in federal funds due to the sequester.

At the same time, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website reports, in 2012 BLM spent $74.9 million dollars taking care of wild horses no one wants. Of that, $7.8 million was spent to round up 8,238 animals, $7.1 million was spent to adopt out 2,598 to private persons, and the balance was spent paying ranchers in Oklahoma and Texas to “pasture” 50,717 animals no one wants on 292,000 acres. Federal law currently prohibits the slaughter of these animals, so the costs will continue to rise.

Do the math. BLM adds over 5,000 animals each year to the 50,000+ no one wants. The program doesn’t work! There are hundreds of similar programs spending billions of dollars that could be cut instead of cutting education.

So, which will it be: Keep caring for horses no one wants, or educate our children? I vote to open the slaughterhouses. Horses should be treated just like cows, pigs, chickens, sheep or goats.

MARGE BURTON

Hulbert

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