There are lots of great things about Oklahoma but our budget and tax system isn’t one of them! As you probably know, we’ve been working for years to get our state legislators to talk about how to properly fund our public works priorities earlier in session, use credible data to make policy decisions, and do all of this with more transparency and accountability to citizens like you and me. Right NOW is the time to visit them in their offices to tell them how years upon years of budget cuts are hurting you and your communities! Give them all the reasons they need to set distractions aside and FOCUS on funding.
This week, I kicked of FACE-TO-FACE FEBRUARY by visiting the Capitol twice. The halls were extremely quiet. I walked right into the offices of both of my legislators and had good conversations with them about:
- Oklahoma Policy Institute’s suggested revenue options,
- about why funding schools, public health, alternative courts for people with addiction or mental illness, roads and bridges, clean water, and pay raises for state employees matter to me. (Do you know what do you want funded? It has practically all been cut.)
I listened attentively as they answered my questions such as:
- Which revenue options are you considering?
- What are the best ways for me to communicate with you as your constituent?
- Are their other ways I can support you and your colleagues in fixing our giant budget hole first and foremost?
I took notes on their responses and the questions that they asked me so I could follow up with:
- Thank you for taking the time to talk to me;
- I appreciate knowing that you and I are both concerned about ______;
- I am glad you know that my community is struggling with ________ and;
- You asked about ____ and here is what I found_____; and
- I hope you and I can talk more soon about ways to find more recurring revenues to deal with our structural budget deficit and the immediate need for more funding for the public good .
Before I left their office:
- I made sure to turn the conversation back to a point where we agree,
- I asked them to take a selfie with me, and
- I thanked them for their time.
- Then I THANKED THEIR LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT. (Know and value the gatekeepers, right?!)
After my visit I:
- Sat down to review my notes from the meeting;
- Sent them a thank you letter right then and there;
- Reminded them of some important points from our conversation; and
- let them know that I am available to them if I can help and that I’ll be in touch again soon.
- Then I posted my selfie with them on social media with the hashtags #meandmylegislator and #f2fFeb, and
- posted about my meeting with them in the #legislator_convos channel in togetherok Slack.
Join us! You can:
- follow my format above,
- check out other TOK tip sheets for more ideas about how to get your legislators attention,
- review OK Policy revenue options so you’ll know what to suggest,
- sign up for Slack to plan a carpool to the capitol with other people in your area,
- join us on February 15th for Let’s Fix This Day at the Capitol, and
- check out and attend other TOK recommended events on our community calendar or on Together Oklahoma Facebook to compare notes and plan strategy with your fellow TOK members.
- We had three Together Oklahoma happy hours this week and we have more coffee dates and meet ups scheduled next week.
Too many of our friends and neighbors can’t afford to take the time to visit our legislators at the Capitol, or even for a coffee date in the district, so if you can, you have a responsibility to do so. We are all responsible for our two state legislators and it is time we start acting like citizens instead of subjects. If you can’t meet in person, do the things you can do, ask others to help do the things they can do, and know that we have your back! We are in this together!