Planning

Building Things to Come

Building Things to Come - August 26, 2018

State Representative David Perryman

Last year the National Film Preservation Board added 25 films to the National Film Registry. To be selected a film must be at least ten years old and must be "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Of the tens of thousands of movies that have been produced, as of this time, only 725 films have made the Registry.

One of the films selected in 2017 was the 1989 fantasy-drama sports film, Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster, in his final role. The movie leads viewers through troubled relationships, financial struggles and unattained goals all tied together with a nostalgic dose of Baseball, America’s Favorite Pastime.

Ray Kinsella, Costner’s character, his wife Annie and their daughter Karin, follow their hearts, persevering through ridicule and near financial ruin, ultimately converting a part of their corn field into a baseball diamond, complete with stands. Along the way, each time that discouragement had threatened to stall the project, an encouraging sign or mystical motivation spurs them forward.

The theme of the movie, its byline and Ray’s motivation was based on the phrase uttered by Shoeless Joe Jackson, "If you build it, he will come." The “he” that Jackson referred to was Ray’s father. Ray succeeded in attaining a goal that fulfilled a lost opportunity.

In 2018, across Oklahoma, the economic condition of most communities outside the two largest urban centers ranges from struggling to dire. Many face the loss of medical providers, medical facilities and ambulance services. Others simply have no sales tax base to sustain the services that directly equate to quality of life.

While the allure of Oklahoma City and Tulsa is to many every bit as tempting as a mythological siren song, given a choice, most Oklahomans would prefer to raise their families in a less urban setting.

It is difficult to drive through a non-urban community anywhere in Oklahoma where men and women are not working hard to find ways to slow or stop the loss of population. Invariably, they face a dauntless task. Communities and community minded organizations are discovering that it is not the job of the grey-haired group to identify needed services and infrastructure. It is their job to FUND the services and infrastructure that is identified by those who are much younger than they.

Enrolling youth is not always easy, but it is essential. Most of us over the age of 40 have no idea what will keep young people in our communities over the next 50 years and most of the population under the age of 40 have no financial means to pay for the services and infrastructure that the next generation will utilize.

The synergy of each group finding their places, one as planners and the other as funders, will bode well for Oklahoma for generations to come.

For instance, the Oklahoma Municipal League is launching a new program to engage citizens. The Young Elected Officials Network will connect Oklahoma’s municipal elected officials under the age of 40 through networking events, specialized training, and policy development and thus empower its members to implement a shared vision into reality.

Each and every group, community, civic club and other organization should follow suit. What better way to engage youth than following their leads and ideas toward tomorrow. “Let them plan it, and they will stay.”  

Questions or comments, call or write David Perryman at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.

Paying Now and Paying Later: The College Debt Crisis

PAYING NOW AND PAYING LATER: THE COLLEGE DEBT CRISIS - October 26, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

Two Rhode Island chemists, Fred Franklin and Ed Aldam, invented an easily replaceable oil filtering element for automobile engines. The bright orange color of their product made it easily recognizable.  Their invention was branded by taking the first two letters of Franklin and the last two letters of Aldam and placing them in bold capital letters down the side of the product.

Hence FRAM oil filters were born. Based on the wise and time honored adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” FRAM’s most successful marketing slogan was “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.”

The concept of investing an amount of money in a planned and frugal manner as a safeguard against facing a much greater and often unanticipated emergency expense in the future is a benchmark of a financially disciplined life and a quality that we would all like to instill in our children and grandchildren.

Mark Twain, applied this concept to education when he observed that “Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain on one end you lose at the other.  It’s like feeding a dog on its own tail. It won’t fatten the dog.”

My personal experience was that in the mid 1970’s enrolling in college primarily involved two financial components.  First was the out of pocket expense of tuition and the second was the deferral of a paycheck from a full time permanent job.

Tuition was paid by help from home, scholarships, grants and working my way through college.  That cost was not easy and I could not have done it on my own, but for me the most difficult part of college was the self-discipline required to stay in school while high school classmates who had not gone to college were accepting full time jobs, buying pickups and houses and settling into their wage earning lifestyles.

The greatest temptation came when the owner of the chain restaurant where I cooked purchased a brand new 1976 Buick.  He promised that if I would leave college and go to work for him full time, I could afford a car like his.

Fortunately, I had the option to remain in school.  Even then, some did not.

Today however, with skyrocketing tuition and fees, most prospective college students face a third financial component relating to their decision as to whether to attend college. That component is college debt coupled with income deferral.

According to the 2014 edition of Quick Facts about Student Debt published by The Institute for College Access and Success the average graduate from a four year college has just under $30,000 in debt with approximately 20% of that amount being private loans. Also alarming is the trending increase in students graduating with debt.  In 1993, 47% of all college students had debt when they obtained their four year degree.  By 2012, that percentage had escalated to 71% of all students.

To add insult to injury, at a time when the government borrows money at 2% interest and home loan interest runs in the 3 to 4.5% level, the interest rate charged to graduates on their federal loan debt is an excruciatingly high 6.8% annual interest rate and regardless of the future financial status of the borrower the college debt is never dischargeable in bankruptcy.

According to a 2014 Fact Sheet published by the Economic Progress Institute, a skilled workforce is key to growing jobs, improving economic security and ensuring the fiscal health of a state and an educated workforce is among the most important attributes a company looks for when deciding where to expand or locate jobs.

In a world where leaders in state government claim that they want families to be stable, wage earners to be economically secure and consumers to be financially able to purchase goods, they do not put their money where their mouth is. Student debt is an embarrassment and one that the state could address by proper higher education funding.

It is no wonder that Oklahoma’s public secondary schools are experiencing massive teacher shortages.  Many college students choose other professions because they do not want to couple their college debt with low teacher pay.  Consequently, many of those who do choose teaching go to states where pay is up to double the amount that Oklahoma pays.

A September 8, 2013 article in the Huffington Post, by Gabrielle Cannon even examined the impact of high college tuition on persons going into the ministry and determined that the long term impact would be fewer priests.

Just like safe and dependable cars depend upon regular maintenance and oil changes, Oklahoma will soon pay the piper for its deferred “maintenance” of educated children and college students. We can pay the cost now, or pay it later.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as State Representative.  If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other matter, please contact me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.

Thinking About Tomorrow

Thinking About Tomorrow For the Common Good - October 5, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

The song Tomorrow from the 1977 Broadway musical, Annie, gives us a glimpse of the optimism of the downtrodden orphaned child who sings that “the sun’ll come out tomorrow” and that “thinkin’ about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow.”

Unfortunately for Annie and for many Oklahomans, tomorrow is always a day away. Annie pins her hopes and dreams on a better tomorrow.  However, our state government refuses to nurture an economy where opportunities will provide the means for us to lift ourselves out of our current situation and into a better one.

Over the past several years, according to Oklahoma’s Secretary of State Chris Benge, undeniable evidence has accumulated showing that the number one economic factor that businesses seek when locating or expanding is an educated and trained workforce supported by strong public education.

Based on information provided in April 2014, by the non-profit Oklahoma Policy Institute, there is a strong correlation between education and wages and with few exceptions, the states where workers earn the highest wages are the states with the most college graduates.

Apparently, this analysis has merit since Oklahoma ranks 42nd in percentage of the population having at least a bachelor’s degree and has the 39th lowest median wage.

While state legislative leaders continue to hand out tax credits “like candy” and consequently leave a huge hole in the general fund, A 2009 study by Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier found that every dollar spent on education creates almost twice as many jobs as a would be anticipated from a dollar diverted as tax credit and the jobs created by educational spending are jobs with higher pay.

An educated Oklahoma workforce not only brings new employers to our state, it provides solid economic growth without growing government... and that’s a good thing.

Plain and simple: An employer who suppresses wages and does not provide health benefits grows government when the employment must be subsidized through welfare and other social programs.  That government growth is a bad thing.

According to 2011 the median annual income of a high school graduate is nearly 41% higher than a high school drop out. A two year college degree adds another 40% in annual income and the median income of a bachelor’s degree holder is two and a half times higher than what a drop out will earn with a masters degree providing three times the dropout’s income.

Higher paying jobs not only decreases the need for government subsidies, it also promotes healthier living and allows Oklahoma’s resources to be redirected to roads, bridges and other core services.

Instead, Oklahoma pulls money away from education at a rate greater than any other state, thus hampering economic recovery and jeopardizing the potential that Oklahoma’s workforce will ever be skilled to the degree needed to sustain higher wages.

Planning for tomorrow requires investment.  In this case, investment in education.

There will be a tomorrow and it will be here sooner than we think.  Unfortunately, if we do not plan for tomorrow it will be just like today.  A day late and a dollar short.  We can’t stick our heads into the sand.

The lyrics of another 1977 song, this one by Fleetwood Mac, reminds us that we can’t stop “thinkin’ about tomorrow.”

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or email me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.