Imagine you’re driving across America on Interstate 40, or you’re on Interstate 35, and eventually you cross one of the borders into Oklahoma. A billboard welcomes you into the state with the following message:

Welcome to Oklahoma. Bring your families and your jobs! Oh, and by the way, we’re dead last in what we spend to educate children, and we rank first in the number of people we put in prison.

In short, Oklahoma’s budget crisis has become the largest barrier to economic development and a better way of life for every Oklahoma family.

Miserable education landscape hinders growth

School districts in other states hear about our low teacher pay and swoop in like vultures to recruit our best and brightest — robbing our kids of the quality teachers we know make a tremendous difference in their lives.

CEOs hear about our schools moving to four-day weeks, slashing advanced-placement courses, and overcrowded classrooms, and they don’t give Oklahoma a second look. Why would you move employees to that kind of environment? Why would you move your company to a state that doesn’t invest in its own workforce, roads and public safety?

End giveaways for special interests

It doesn’t have to be this way. For too long, we’ve allowed special interests to rob our state of the resources needed to provide basic services Oklahoma families expect – good roads, quality schools and adequate public safety – all so a few companies can enjoy a tax benefit to pad their bottom lines.

It’s time to end these special-interest giveaways and instead ask oil and gas companies to help Oklahoma dig out of this budget crisis. Oklahoma’s people and its resources provide great wealth for giant corporations. Isn’t it time we put our people ahead of corporate profits?

Together, we can stop this fiscal nightmare, and at the same time we can save our state.