OKC Rep. Jon Echols Says Workforce Development Is Priority No. 1

Oklahoma City State Representative Jon Echols says Oklahoma is in a critical moment as it addresses teaching and nursing shortages.

Monday, February 14th 2022, 2:53 pm


Funding workforce development is a focus for one lawmaker working to boost the number of nurses and engineers in Oklahoma. 

Representative Jon Echols (HD-90) says he is passionate about a bill that was passed in the Higher Education and Career Tech committee Monday.  

It’s called the Oklahoma Needed Workers Act. 

“The idea behind this legislation is to reenergize the way Oklahoma focuses on needed degrees, specifically teachers, engineers, and nursing,” Echols said.  

HB 4196 seeks to create a revolving fund for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to fund these key degree programs.  

He said Oklahoma is looking at a cliff right now and needs to expand the pipeline of students headed into these fields.  

“It's about rethinking the way we do higher education, and now is the best time we could possibly do it. Chancellor Garett is here, so we have a brand-new chancellor in higher education, we have ARPA funding that is available, we have the opportunity to rethink and restructure Oklahoma's career development path for generations to come,” he said.  

In other education bills we’re watching — at Tuesday’s ethics and election committee meeting, Piedmont Republican Representative Denise Crosswhite-Hadar is presenting three bills expected to impact local schools and school boards.  

HB 3233 – would require all candidates for any elected office to pick a political party. This would include local school boards. 

HB 3234 – would invalidate election results if less than 40% of registered voters participate in an election and regulate when schools can run certain measures like mill levies. 

HB 3235 – would take appointment power away from school boards, so they wouldn’t be able to fill empty board seats outside of an election. The governor would be able to appoint board members if the board lacks a quorum. 

The Oklahoma State School Board Association sent out an alert asking legislators to vote NO on HB 3234 and HB 3235.   

The Senate Education committee is expecting to hear Senator Greg Treats controversial Oklahoma Empowerment Act Tuesday, which allows public school dollars to pay for private and homeschooling. 


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