Oklahoma state government has been run by the fracking industry in recent years. But maybe not for long. The state’s teachers got tired of being underpaid and seeing the education budget cut, year after year, to provide tax cuts for the energy industry. And they struck back.
They promised to make lawmakers pay for refusing to finance broader investments in education with larger tax hikes. “We got here by electing the wrong people to office,” Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, told the New YorkÂ Times in April. “We have the opportunity to make our voices heard at the ballot box.” Hamm and his fellow gas giants (almost certainly) made an equal and opposite vow — that those few Republicans who held the line against tax hikes of any kind would not regret their bravery.
Last night, Oklahoma’s GOP primary season came to an end — and the teachers beat the billionaires in a rout. Nineteen Republicans voted against raising taxes to increase teacher pay last spring; only four will be on the ballot this November.
I say this tells us that the right issue really can be used as a wedge to pry corporate-captured legislators out of their seats.