WOW! I’ll start by saying that Jan Figart of the Community Service Council in Tulsa is quite the motivational speaker. In my role as a librarian, I advocate for increased funding in public education and health care. Now, I am ready to take on the entire state legislature and demand they look at the facts. Tell it Jan!
If you were unable to attend today’s lunch and learn event, here are a few sobering statistics:
~ Oklahoma is an aging state. The proportion of people over the age of 65 is growing, up from 11.7% to 17% in the last 40 years. This is a population that typically draws from the pool of funds for things like healthcare and does not pay as much into the funding stream. At the same time, the number of younger people who will be expected to join the labor force and support our tax base, is shrinking from 25.1% in 1970 to about 17% today. That does not bode well for our ability to grow our economy.
~ The above referenced “younger people” are not being prepared to assume responsibility for a sustainable financial future. Fewer will be able to earn a college degree, meaning that a larger percentage will be trying to raise a family on lower paying jobs. Not only does this decrease our collective standard of living, lower wages mean lower tax revenues. Which will mean even less funding for essential services.
~ 30% of those aged 20 to 24 are not working. Let that one sink in a bit. Some are in college (good) but 8.2% are unemployed (bad).
~ A growing number of low wage earners are being forced out of the job market and onto public assistance because of the high cost of child care. The fact that the legislature stripped out the child tax credit and the subsidies for daycare assistance to cover tax breaks for the most wealthy individuals – and voted themselves a pay raise to boot – is nothing short of shameful.
The good news is that we have a community that cares. We want Tulsa to thrive again. We want our state to prosper and to regain its reputation as a great place to live and raise a family. The good news is that we have people like Jan. It will take all of us working together to turn things around. But really, what other choice do we have?
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