MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

December 28, 2012

Budget should help people first

— Gov. Mary Fallin’s budget proposal should use additional funds to provide services that benefit constituents above all else.

The state Board of Equalization recently voted to approve an early estimate that showed Fallin would have $214 million more than last year to include in her budget.

Fallin has said her priorities are schools, prisons and safety for her $7 billion budget.

The priorities are solid.

How Fallin proposes to spend the additional money remains to be seen.

Education already is slated to receive about $78 million more because revenues earmarked for education increased over last fiscal year.

Education needs to be brought back to pre-recession funding levels.

Our future depends on our children receiving a quality education.

Make sure the money goes to providing a better education, not just to hand out raises to school employees.

Most people in the state have had to cut back because of higher unemployment, wage freezes or pay cuts.

We sympathize with those state employees who are suffering from the poor economy just like the rest of us.

But now is the time to make sure the additional funds go to programs that will help students in the classroom.

The same can be said for overcrowding in prisons.

Instead of building more prisons, Fallin should consider funding or creating programs that might intervene before someone winds up in prison. She should consider programs that help parolees from making the same mistakes and returning to prison.

Instead of more prisons and guards, let’s try to create less demand for prison beds.

The additional funds over last fiscal year’s budget is a good sign our economy could be ready for a major rebound.

Let’s use the money wisely to help our future.

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