- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

Tulsa World. Dec. 10, 2018.

- Congratulations to Kyler Murray; your Heisman Trophy demonstrates what hard work and dedication can lead to

Congratulations to University of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, who won the Heisman Trophy Saturday night.

The trophy is awarded by the Downtown Athletic Club to the best college football player in the nation, the individual whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.

The redshirt junior, who is expected to head to a career in Major League Baseball when national championship play is completed, was humble and generous in his victory. He acknowledged the help of everyone at OU from the scout team to Head Coach Lincoln Riley. He thanked God, his family and Sooner fans. He saluted the other Heisman finalists and repeatedly said that his individual accomplishments were the result of the help of many, many others.

Murray - who led the Sooners to a 12-1 record, a Big 12 championship and a berth in the College Football Playoffs - is the seventh OU Heisman winner.

It’s a remarkable record for the team, and a point of pride for the entire state. If OU is capable of competing on a national level in college football and winning, there’s no reason Oklahoma can’t be as successful in addressing the many other challenges facing it.

What would that take? The sort of goal-oriented, intelligently led commitment that has built the Sooner football success story. Nothing less.

After the award was announced, USA Today and other media outlets drew attention to tweets Murray sent when he was 14 and 15 that included homophobic slurs. Murray took responsibility for the tweets, which he said don’t “reflect who I am or what I believe.”

We take him at his word on that, and find ourselves wondering about journalism that expects fully matured attitudes from a 15-year-old. The attempt to rain on Murray’s parade should be a warning to everyone - but especially young people whose lives are immersed in social media - that even in seemingly private communication, it’s wise to behave as if the whole world is listening.


The Oklahoman. Dec. 11, 2018.

- Switching political parties has less impact than in past

Last week, state Rep. Johnny Tadlock of Idabel announced he had left the Democratic Party and joined the Republican caucus. The relatively understated nature of this event shows party switching ain’t what it used to be. That’s no knock on Tadlock, but a reflection of how much the political scene has shifted in Oklahoma.

In 2002, when Rep. Mike Ervin of Wewoka switched from Democrat to Republican, his decision left the GOP within two votes of seizing control. At the announcement, Ervin was surrounded by House GOP leaders, as well as three congressmen and a corporation commissioner who had each been Democrats before switching. Then-Gov. Frank Keating issued a statement welcoming Ervin to the Republican Party.

In 2006, when Sen. Nancy Riley switched from Republican to Democrat, giving Democrats a 26-22 edge in that chamber, she was surrounded by Democrats and her decision was hailed by Senate Democratic leadership and the Oklahoma Democratic Party chair.

Tadlock’s switch drew no comparable embrace from GOP officials. No House Republican leader issued a statement.

The lack of triumphalism may be driven by the fact Tadlock’s move has little impact on GOP fortunes. His addition leaves Republicans with a 77-24 majority in the House of Representatives.

Last year Democrats influenced fiscal policy debate, but only because the governor and GOP legislative leaders were promoting tax increases. In Oklahoma, tax increases require three-fourths support in both legislative chambers, and the defection of a handful of GOP conservatives from the tax-increase effort allowed Democrats to seize leverage and boost their influence.

But Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt is an opponent of those tax increases and is pursuing a different agenda. Thus, adding one Republican to a legislative supermajority is of little consequence today.

In announcing his switch, Tadlock noted he is anti-abortion and supported by the National Rifle Association. He did not stress fiscal issues, which suggests he is more of a cultural conservative than a fiscal conservative. In that, Tadlock will have much company in his new caucus. Indeed, he is far from the most liberal member of the House GOP caucus.

Instead, Tadlock’s decision appears driven by political reality. His district covers all of McCurtain County and much of LeFlore County. Stitt carried 68 percent and 63 percent, respectively, of the vote in those two counties.

Tadlock’s switch highlights, again, how Oklahoma Republicans are gaining ground almost despite themselves. The former House Democratic leader lost his re-election race against a Republican candidate who barely bothered to campaign and wasn’t recruited by GOP officials. Tadlock’s move appears unlinked to Republican overtures. And legislative Republicans haven’t offered a meaningful agenda in years.

One of the biggest problems in Oklahoma has been the complacency of the Republican majority, which has generated inertia and indifference to serious policy debates. It may be a triumph of hope over experience to expect this to change so long as the party continues to make gains with little effort.


Enid News & Eagle. Dec. 11, 2018.

- Lower oil prices help consumers, hurt state revenue

In Oklahoma, we have a big balancing act to perform when it comes to oil prices.

For consumers, lower oil prices mean lower gas prices at the pump. That’s a good thing for people trying to stretch their hard-earned dollars as far as they can.

For the state as a whole, lower prices are not necessarily a good thing. In Oklahoma, about one quarter of all state revenue comes from the oil and natural gas industry. So, any decline in the price of oil or natural gas adversely affects the state’s budget.

The drop in oil prices has put state officials at odds with President Donald Trump, who hailed the lower prices in tweets recently.

“Oil prices getting lower,” Trump tweeted Nov. 21. “Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!”

On Dec. 5, Trump tweeted: “Hopefully OPEC will be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted. The World does not want to see, or need, higher oil prices!”

“He wants to bring it down even more,” Gov. Mary Fallin said. “Oklahoma right now has some of the lowest gasoline prices in the nation, which is good for the consumer. (It’s) not always good for the budget and the revenue that we collect.”

Chad Warmington, president of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association-Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, said: “It hurts the national economy in much broader ways than the president may give credit. It’s not just about pump prices.

“As goes the oil and gas industry, so goes the Oklahoma economy.”

How the recent dip in prices will affect the state’s revenue remains to be seen.

Officials will receive preliminary estimates for the upcoming budget year later this month. Typically, there’s about a two-month lag before falling oil prices are reflected in Oklahoma’s tax collections.

The current budget expects oil to sell for $53.08 a barrel. Unless there’s a sustained drop in prices, most of the impact will likely be felt in the coming budget year.

What we really don’t need in Oklahoma are the swings in oil prices. During Fallin’s eight years in the governor’s office, the price of oil has been as high as $107 a barrel to a low of $26.

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