- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

The Journal Record, Feb. 22, 2016

Make necessary adjustments

Politicians often campaign on some version of the slogan that says government should be run more like a business.

OK, here’s how a business runs: The company writes a budget based on its best guess of the forthcoming year’s revenue. When it’s over, if revenue is up, the bottom line improves. Public companies give out bonuses and pay dividends to shareholders. Private companies spread a little cheer and the owner takes his kids to Disneyland. Everyone has an extra glass of spiked punch at the Christmas party.

Sometimes it doesn’t go that way and the company has to adjust. Maybe there’s a listeria problem and the company can’t sell as much ice cream as it planned. Maybe oil prices jump off the high dive and do a belly-flop at $27 per barrel. In those years, there are no bonuses, no dividends, no trips to visit Mickey, Donald and Pluto.

“The year isn’t going quite the way we expected,” the CEO says in a press release. “We’re making the necessary adjustments.”

WPX, for example, said this when it had to lay off 60 employees two weeks ago: “These are always difficult decisions. As a company, we have to live within our means and align the size of our organization to meet the challenges we’re seeing in our industry.”

When SandRidge had to lay off 172 this month, the company said, “No reduction in workforce is easy, but we will not waver from making the tough decisions necessary for the long-term stability of our business.”

And last week, when Devon cut 1,000 employees, the company said, “Devon has taken these and other cost-reduction actions primarily as a result of the current commodity price environment.”

Necessary adjustments. That’s what businesses do to stay afloat and continue providing products and services to their customers.

Oklahoma must adjust to $1.3 billion less. It’s time to cut the bonuses, dividends and trips to Disneyland. Legislators can solve nearly one-third of the state’s next problem by passing Mike Mazzei’s Senate Bill 1073. It would freeze the pending income tax cut - the one that will save 80 percent of Oklahomans less than $100 - while adding better safeguards and eliminating the double-dip state tax exemption. According to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, it would bolster fiscal 2017 state income tax collections by more than $384 million.

That might not be a vacation to the Magic Kingdom, but it’s almost 30 percent of this year’s problem.

More importantly, it’s a necessary adjustment.


Enid News & Eagle

Prepare now for severe weather

It can never be too early to prepare for severe weather.

Yes, it’s still winter, but the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having lately should serve as a reminder of what’s to come in spring.

Severe weather can develop quickly, and we’ve all got to be ready when it does. That means we can’t wait until severe weather hits to figure out what to do.

One of the most important things you can do for your family is have your emergency plan in place and understood long before it’s needed.

That means families need to get together and talk to each other. Develop a plan and practice what you will do in the event of a tornado. Make sure everyone in the family knows where to go and how to best protect themselves. The best place to go is an underground shelter, basement or safe room. If none of those are available, then the best place is a small, windowless interior room or hallway.

Experts advise wearing a helmet to protect your head from flying debris.

And, as we’ve all heard for years, if you live in a mobile home, get out and get to shelter elsewhere before a tornado warning is issued.

The websites for Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management (www.gcem.org) and American Red Cross (www.redcross.org) have plenty of information that can help you figure out a plan.

Once you get your plan in place, practice it so it becomes second nature. That way, if you need to take precautions in the event of severe weather, you and your family can react without having to stop and think about what to do.

The key is preparation. The time to figure out your emergency plan is now, not when a tornado is bearing down on you.

Knowing what to do ahead of time can be the difference between life and death.


Tulsa World, Feb. 18, 2016

Oklahoma Corporation Commission takes strong, measured move against wastewater earthquakes

We applaud the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s move to reduce sharply the amount of wastewater disposal activity in northwest Oklahoma.

Wastewater disposal has been convincingly tied to the state’s unprecedented increase in earthquakes in recent months. A 5.1 magnitude quake Saturday morning northwest of Fairview was the third largest temblor in recorded history. Once seismically stable, Oklahoma saw more than 900 earthquakes with a magnitude 3.0 or greater last year.

All that shaking (and the political opportunity it seems to have offered) was enough to make some people call for extreme, industry-destroying action - We want a moratorium or we’ll go to the barricades!

To its credit, the Corporation Commission’s plan is a strong but measured move. It will reduce the disposal rate by 40 percent in a 5,200-square-mile area that includes all or parts of six counties. It covers 245 disposal wells injecting wastewater into the state’s deepest geological formation - the Arbuckle - which experts deem as the most pressing concern regarding man-made quakes.

We hope that’s enough to show some progress on the problem. If it isn’t, the state can step things up again. It’s a trial-and-results process that is driven by data, not emotions. That’s as things should be.

We’re not so naive as to suggest there were no politics involved in Tuesday’s announcement. The elected Corporation Commission is clearly getting the message that Oklahomans want their homes to stop shaking, but Oklahomans also aren’t interested in seeing their state’s most important industry leveled by overly aggressive government regulations.

The pressure to do something about the earthquakes is paying off, and the Corporation Commission is acting. More action might be necessary. If so, good. If not, better.

We’d like to keep the oil industry as productive as possible, and the earth calm too.

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