NO ONE LEFT OUT…FOR THE COMMON GOOD - February 8, 2013
State Representative David Perryman
I got quite a surprise when I went to my mailbox this week. I opened a letter from one of my elementary school teachers, Mrs. Carpenter. She seems to be having trouble imagining the little toe-headed boy with smudged bottle-cap glasses as a state legislator.
Not only did I spend a lot of time in her classroom, but her house was a place where many of us gathered to play with her children. It seems the hole in her back yard where we all played basketball is now, after 45 years about filled in. The small school where she taught and we attended is still the pride of the community.
Although her yard and I have undergone change, I imagine that one of the things that has remained constant is the excitement of grade schoolers preparing for Valentine’s Day. Probably like you, we used our scissors to make Valentines for our mothers out of paper plates and red lacy doilies.
I bet you remember using crayons and that white lumpy paste to decorate sacks with our names on them in anticipation of receiving Valentines from our classmates. I had not thought about that kind of paste in years, but I recall its unique smell and how that plastic applicator made it impossible to spread without getting it all over our hands and clothes and desks and everything else.
Do you remember cutting out hearts and picking out valentines for all the students in your class? The important lesson that we all learned was that NO ONE was to be left out. Even the new kid who had just moved into the community got a card from EVERYONE in the class.
One year, in addition to Valentines, my mom purchased suckers for my class. She sent me with two extras just in case we had overlooked anyone.
As a State Legislator, I hold to that elementary school principle that no child should be left out. Everyone deserves opportunity. Likewise, we must take steps to make certain that needy senior citizens and others who are not able to provide for themselves have the advantage of adequately funded and non-abused programs to address their needs.
During this time of tight budgets, we must be cautious to make certain that we do not follow Kansas down a road of income tax cuts that cripples the ability of the state to address infrastructure needs and basic core services including corrections, mental health, education, fire protection and law enforcement.
Our state government is lean and efficient, but we have a moral responsibility to provide a fair wage to dedicated employees of state government who have not had a raise since gasoline cost half as much as it does today.
We fund public education at the disgracefully low level of 49th in the nation, yet thanks to quality teachers in the classroom, it performs at number 17 according to the EPE Research Center.
I cannot believe that any legislator wants to neglect the people of their district. Sometimes when we see budgets, we become overwhelmed, but we have a duty to investigate and to see that there are real working families facing real economic hardship who need help.
We absolutely must fulfill our duty to eliminate waste in government, but we must also recognize the reality that government is simply defined as “those things that we do collectively.”
Even as a child, I recognized that not all families could buy the same things. Some parents had more and some had less, but that had no impact on our friendships and how we interacted during recess. We cared enough to make certain that everyone was treated with dignity and respect.
Why should it be any different today? As we face the difficult budget challenges, there is no reason to cause decisions to be more difficult than they need to be. Cutting Oklahoma’s income tax today when we have neglected needs for so long is not good policy.
Neither the State of Oklahoma nor its taxpayers owe anyone a handout. However, it is irresponsible to consciously and intentionally eviscerate the ability of state government to provide core services and opportunities for its citizens.
As for this week, look around. There are many elderly citizens who may not be receiving a Valentine or a visit or phone call. The number of children in this state who are hungry at night and on weekends is at record levels.
The more strongly that we feel about limited government, the greater our responsibility to do all that we can do to compassionately address those needs. This Valentine’s Day, take the challenge. Meet a fellow human being’s need. You will be glad you did.
Thanks for reading this installment of the COMMON GOOD and thank you for allowing me to serve as your State Representative. I want to know what is on your mind and your thoughts on improving the quality of life in District 56. Please email me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or call at 405-557-7401 or 405-222-3600 or toll free at 1-800-522-8502.