Tulsa World endorsement: In House District 71, Katie Henke fights for public schools

She is a Republican lawmaker who fights for schools

By World’s Editorial Writers

If we had more people like Katie Henke at the Capitol, our state would be in a lot better shape.

Henke, the Republican incumbent seeking her third term in House District 71, is a pro-education lawmaker, who isn’t afraid to take difficult stands when she needs to.

Last year, that meant she voted against a voucher bill in committee, even though it had obvious support of the top Republican leaders in the state House, even though another lawmaker voted against a very similar bill in 2015 and lost his seat on the committee the next year.

In 2014, it meant she led the effort to reform the state’s punitive third-grade reading mandate. She took a one-size-fits-all plan that required schools to hold back thousands of third-grade students who didn’t pass a reading test and turned it into a reasonable plan to evaluate individual children on the basis of their abilities with parents, teachers and experts included in the process. Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed Henke’s bill, but she rallied fellow lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats together — to override the veto.

Henke understands the needs of public schools, and she’s ready to fight to see that they are met.

Unlike a lot of people at the Capitol, Henke understands that the state has to have sufficient money to fund public schools. So, she’s ready to repeal a pending income tax cut that is threatening to take more money away from state revenues. She backed a plan to rebalance the state’s Medicaid program and bring in millions in federal funding. She backed a plan to raise cigarette taxes, which would not only bring in state revenue, but would save lives of children who never start smoking as a result.

In a state House with too many ideologues, Henke is a voice of moderation, a lawmaker who understands that she signed up for the responsibilities of governing when she took the job.

In House District 71, we endorse Katie Henke. We only wish we could clone her.

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