Columns/Opinions

Tue
10
Jul
Edgar's picture

Tuition Rates Increase Despite Increased State Appropriations

By State Representative Todd Russ

 

The State Regents for Higher Education last week approved tuition and fee hikes at many state colleges and universities for the coming school year. This means fulltime undergraduate students at these public institutions will pay an average of $224, about 4 percent, more to attend classes starting this fall. Many of the same schools just a year ago increased tuition and fees by an average of $284, or 5.3 percent. The schools say they’ve had to raise costs despite an increase in state appropriations this year because of past budget cuts during a statewide recession, and they are right that we did cut them. The last three years were historical with the drastic drop in oil prices, and in hard times I think the schools should curb expenses and scour their budgets to prioritize their programs and drop programs that have no business being funded with public money.

 

Tue
12
Jun
Edgar's picture

Pet Corner

by De De Young

Trainer, K-9 Kampus

One big issue is potty training, the first thing to remember is that it is not natural for a dog to do anything but squat when they need to potty!

It turns everything up side down for the dog when we ask them to let you know when they need outside. A lot of dogs just flat don’t know what they are supposed to do.

 

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Tue
12
Jun
Edgar's picture

House Report

By State Representative Todd Russ

I noted in my last column some grievous practices at the state Health Department. House leaders are still delving into fixing the problems at the department and ways to keep them from recurring. One positive, however, is that the department is now in the process of hiring additional nurses to help health care facilities, and state health care providers say that’s a relief.

Rural hospitals, surgical centers, nursing homes and home health care servers have to be regularly inspected in order to receive payment for their services. These providers rely on state inspectors to conduct routine site visits and records check who then report their findings.

 

Tue
05
Jun
Edgar's picture

My Point Of View

By Zonelle Cox Rainbolt

At the Cordell City Council held on Monday night, a number of individuals contributed their thoughts about the City’s proposed 2018-2019 fiscal year budget. Most who spoke were opposed to the increases on utility rates and funding for some projects, most notably the golf course.

I want to say, first thing, that I don’t like increased prices for anything, either. Given my preference, I would choose for prices of goods and services I use to decrease, not increase. But, I also am realistic enough to know that, in our present world, that is not likely to happen.

Do a Google search about prices from two years ago, the last time we had a utility increase built into our City budget, and you will discover that virtually everything costs more now than it did in 2016. A few examples include milk (from $3.19 in 2016 to $3.50 today), eggs (from $1.32 to $1.80) ground beef ($3.98 to $5.71) and gasoline (from $1.99 to $2.70).

 

Tue
29
May
Edgar's picture

House Report

By State Representative Todd Russ

Last week, a multicounty grand jury, the state attorney general and the state auditor released reports on the mismanagement scandal at the state Health Department. I was infuriated as a lawmaker to read as well as a taxpayer.

It turns out the department’s initial claim that it was nearly insolvent after “borrowing” federal funds to pay state expenses was never true. Instead, department leaders apparently hid state appropriated dollars in a slush fund set up to look like restricted federal funds. So in November, when they said they had to have an emergency infusion of $30 million just to make December payroll that was not true. Only when the department got a new chief operating officer and a new chief finance officer who didn’t know how the game was played did the situation at the Health Department begin to unravel.

 

Tue
29
May
Edgar's picture

Home Country

By Slim Randles

Doc smiled and felt really good inside when he heard the familiar bird song.

“Hey there, Wheezer,” he said, “happy spring!”

For some reason, this mourning dove with the speech impediment comes around to Doc’s back yard every spring, and Doc thinks that’s just all right. If ol’ Wheez didn’t have that distinctive voice, Doc would never know if this bird favored his yard or was just another bird looking for a home. Let’s face it, Wheezer looks just like every other dove in town.

 

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Tue
22
May
Edgar's picture

News From Quartz Mountain State Parky

What wonderful rains we have had! In the last week we’ve had nearly four inches of rain at Quartz Mountain Nature Park. Friday the 18th thru Sunday the 20th, over an inch and a half fell. For the first twenty one days of the month we’ve had nearly five inches of rain. Lake Altus-Lugert is 75% full and rising.

Quartz Mountain Nature Park is green and lush. As of 8AM Monday the 21st, Greer County, which includes all of the Main Park, Grocery Store and Lodge/Cabin areas was still in a Governor Declared Burn Ban. We anticipate the Burn Ban will be lifted before the Memorial Holiday weekend. Follow the Quartz Mountain Nature Park Face-Book page, or the Park website (www.quartzmountain. org) – as soon as we know the Burn Ban has been lifter, we’ll start getting the word out.

 

Tue
15
May
Edgar's picture

House Report

By State Representative Todd Russ

One of the recipients of the Fiscal Year 2019 state budget that has not gotten much fanfare but that deserves some recognition is the Department of Libraries. The department will get an additional $125,328 over Fiscal Year 2018. In all, the Department of Libraries will receive $4.483 million for the coming fiscal year.

The Department of Libraries serves as the official State Library of Oklahoma. It is responsible for providing information and records management services to state officials and employees as well as for assisting public library development throughout the state.

Department of Libraries funding falls under the category of education in the appropriations bill the Legislature passes each year. As chairman of the House Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee on Education, I fought for and helped secure this increase in funding for state libraries.

 

Tue
15
May
Edgar's picture

Home Country

By Slim Randles

When Dewey and Emily walked into the Mule Barn the other day, they were greeted with applause and whistles. Emily blushed and Dewey took a bow, almost hitting the coffee pot Loretta was carrying.

“I hear you two really fell for each other,” Doc said. “And the way I hear it, many times.”

“That’s right, Doc, I finally cornered him and we’re planning a wedding,” Emily said.

Emily is a brave soul, taking for a husband the most accident prone human being since Wrong Way Corrigan.

 

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Tue
08
May
Edgar's picture

House Report

By State Representative Todd Russ

Despite what at times became a tumultuous legislative session, lawmakers were able to accomplish quite a number of things that will benefit residents of our great state.

First, and foremost is a state budget that restores services for Oklahoma residents. After years of a recession that forced revenue failures and cuts to agency services, this year we were able to increase funding in many key areas, including education, public health and mental health care, human services, public safety and transportation.

On top of the list was education. The governor this week signed the $7.6 billion state budget that appropriates $2.9 billion to K-12 public schools. Money is dedicated to average teacher pay raises of $6,100; support staff pay raises of $1,250 and about $50 million more to go to classrooms and textbooks.

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