I'm an Independent because we should vote on the merits of each issue and the quality of the legislation, not because of party politics. Nothing radical here, just a desire to use common sense to make practical improvements.
My beliefs and actions are dictated by my Christian Faith. I understand that we are a country that values freedom of religion and accordingly treat all people with respect.
Public education is a core service and must be supported as such. The state must not impose additional testing on schools than federal requirements mandate. *Update - congratulations to the 2016 session for eliminating all but one of the non-federally mandated testing!* AP, STEM, and arts courses are vital to developing well-rounded children and should be supported.
We should encourage the next generation to dream big, but not require that their dreams include college. Oklahoma's hard work ethic is strengthened by the diversity of employment opportunities including agriculture, trades, and industry which do not all benefit from the indebtedness college education often causes. Our vocational centers are an important resource to give our citizens more employment opportunities.
We are all aware of the disaster our budget is experiencing. This is a result of 1) relying heavily on an industry prone to boom and bust cycles, 2) failing to effectively save for downturns in the economy, and 3) feeling the pain of a revenue failure after most agencies are already streamlined due to previous budget cuts.
Unfortunately, there is no way to generate all the monies needed to protect last year's budget levels without damaging the economy. However, we must take action now to reduce the impact of the revenue failure.
We are fortunate that the state has diversified since the last major oil bust and have relatively low unemployment. This affords us some options for addressing the budget:
Criminal justice reform - Oklahoma incarcerates a disgraceful percentage of our population. We cracked down on crime, but now see our prisons overcrowded, understaffed, and flat-out unsafe. We can alleviate this burden and reduce the costs by reforming sentencing. There are currently a few bills in the legislature that raise the threshold for felony convictions and waive the minimum sentencing requirements for some crimes. We need to support these smart, safe updates. Additionally, we need to address the real cause of so many repeat offenders - mental health issues. Oklahoma had just started to make headway with alternative sentencing methods when the budget crisis hit. We need to push for better mental health services and use of drug courts when possible.
Infrastructure - we have come a long way in a short time to address our unsafe bridges. We must continue to invest in roads, bridges, and water sourcing to ensure that our resources can support the use by individuals and businesses, especially as demand increases with the eventual upturn in the economy and the oil and gas industry.
Rural Heritage -The constituents of District 19 come from a rural area that has strong agricultural ties. We need to protect the rights and livelihood of farmers as well as the land and water resources on which they rely.
The second amendment is a federal constitutional right. We should encourage and support those that seek safety courses and education.