After a year of listening and soliciting, a book of ideas was finally unfurled onto the Oklahoma public. Spearheaded by Rep. Lance Cargill, organizers released "100 Ideas: Innovation for the Second Century" during a reception Tuesday morning at the Oklahoma History Center.
"We saw true democracy at work," Cargill said as he introduced the book.
Former state Rep. Thad Balkman chaired the 100 Ideas Initiative, which held community meetings throughout the state to gather ideas from the public. Balkman emphasized this was not a way of trying to push conservative ideas in state government.
"We didn't start with any ideas," Balkman said. "We started with an empty slate."
However, several of the ideas which Cargill brought up during the press conference had a conservative tilt, including teacher merit pay and modernizing government. Both happen to be proposals Cargill and his Republican colleagues in the state House of Representatives are backing.
Balkman said there were two main criteria when considering ideas for the book:
" to focus on ideas that dealt with the future, and
" to focus ideas that would not expand government.
But the book is not without its liberal ideas. Balkman pointed out some of the environmental ideas may not sit well with conservatives, including LEED certification, which requires new buildings to be environmentally friendly in design.
Balkman said more than 3,500 ideas were submitted either through the "Idearaisers" held across the state or via the Internet.
The impact of the book is uncertain, as the unveiling comes less than 24 hours after Cargill announced he was stepping down as Speaker of the House. Cargill has been the subject of controversy for months, including allegations of a pay-to-play scheme with lobbyists; a state ethics investigation involving campaign donations; and recent news reports of failing to file income and property taxes.
Cargill said he believes his negative publicity will not impact the book of ideas.
"Politics should be about ideas," he said. -Scott Cooper