Community, Business Leaders Make Call For Reform Before Legislative Session
A nonpartisan coalition of business, civic and community leaders have announced a combination of reform and revenue measures to drive efficiencies, eliminate abuse and waste, and raise revenue to support a $5,000 salary increase for teachers and to fund core services.
The group has formed "Step Up Oklahoma" with rural and urban representatives from diverse business and organizational backgrounds, it was announced in a press conference Thursday morning at the Oklahoma History Center. The leaders who put the plan together have been meeting with Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders for several weeks about their ideas.
"Legislative leaders and the governor are all focused on solutions and this is encouraging," said David Rainbolt, BancFirst executive chairman and Step Up member. "It’s no longer enough for business leaders to play Monday morning quarterback. We’ve got to step up to partner with our elected officials in finding solutions and bringing citizen support that helps everyone to make the tough choices that will move Oklahoma forward."
Rainbolt is one of many Oklahoma leaders participating in the group. David Griffin, the president and chairman of Griffin Communications, News 9's parent company, is also a member of the Step Up Oklahoma coalition.
For a full list of those participating in the group and to read more about it, visit StepUpOklahoma.com.
The Step Up Oklahoma plan contains much needed government-reform measures to give lawmakers the tools they need to root out waste and allow for long-term thinking. The plan:
• Increase teacher pay by $5,000
• Revise the state budget to reflect accurate numbers
• Require line-item budgets
• Modify term limits
• Lower the supermajority required to raise revenue
• Establish a budget stabilization fund
• Give the governor direct appointment power over the largest state agencies
• Make the governor and lieutenant governor running mates
• Change the process to fill Supreme Court vacancies
• Create an independent budget office to assist with eliminating waste
• Allow voters to decide the structure of each county’s government
Leaders developed a broad compromise plan which affects taxes on:
• Cigarettes, little cigars, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes
• The energy industry, including the gross production tax
• Motor fuels
• Wind-power generation
• Refundable income tax credits
• Gaming activities
• Personal income tax
The Step Up Oklahoma plan is similar to the Strategic Vision Plan, released by the state chamber late last year.
The regular legislative session is scheduled to begin February 5, but Gov. Fallin has indicated she would call back lawmakers for another special session this month to work on long-term solutions.
Watch today's news conference below: