Monday, April 9, 2018

Cockroft disappoints on ed freedom, taxes

State Rep. Josh Cockroft (R-Wanette) seems like an upstanding young man with a wonderful family. But it’s been disappointing to watch his political trajectory over the years. In my experience, it's not uncommon for politicians to campaign as conservatives but then to veer leftward once they get under the dome—"growing in office" and earning "strange new respect" from tax consumers and liberal journalists. (With any luck, after 12 years some of these ex-pols land cushy jobs in the higher education bureaucracy.)

When he was first trying to get elected, candidate Cockroft made a written promise to the taxpayers in his district that he would "oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes." Eight years later, we find incumbent Cockroft voting for many efforts to increase taxes—including what appears to be the largest tax increase in Oklahoma history—and then boasting about it. He also voted to weaken SQ 640.

The American Conservative Union rates legislators each year. In 2017, Rep. Cockroft earned a rating of 47 percent. That’s an “F.” Rep. Cockroft professes conservatism, and I don't doubt his sincerity. But as one old sage put it, “Don’t read their lips. Read their budgets.” Cockroft’s lifetime ACU average is now 66 percent.

Equally troubling is his departure from principle when it comes to securing parental rights in education. The national GOP and Oklahoma GOP platforms endorse educational choice, of course, and Oklahoma has a successful tax-credit scholarship program which is helping hearing-impaired children, homeless students, teenage students battling addiction, rural students who want a faith-based education, bullied children, autistic students, and many more. And according to economists at Oklahoma City University, the program is saving the state money. Inexplicably, Rep. Cockroft this session voted against expanding the program to help even more children. And, far from being ashamed of his vote, he actually liked and retweeted the praise he received for it. 

Many politicians would never send their own children to a public school where they weren’t taught to read or do math. Or where the children are bullied or sexually harassed. Or where the teachers don't show up for work. But by continuing to favor the tax-financed monopoly school system, these politicians continue to make alternatives unaffordable for many of their constituents.

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