State Lawmakers Agree On Legislative Agendas
Oklahoma City, OK - Wednesday, the Associated Press held its annual legislative forum, giving reporters a chance to ask leaders questions about the upcoming session. It turns out, lawmakers are on the same page.
“I’m just excited that that we can lock arms and move the state forward,” said Senator Greg Treat (R) Senate President Pro Tempore.
Kumbaya is echoing through the halls of the Capitol for the first time in a long time.
Lawmakers agree more has to be done with criminal justice reform.
Governor Kevin Stitt wants to see changes to the way we charge offenders fines and fees that often lead to time behind bars when not paid.
“Fifty percent of the funding in our district attorneys’ offices comes from fines fees and court costs,” said Stitt.
The governor says that’s an incentive for DA’s to prosecute. His plan; change where the money goes.
“Where the fines and fees come to the legislature and then the legislature appropriates the correct amount of money to the district attorneys,” said Stitt.
The legislature could also consider some kind of Medicaid expansion, where a $100 million investment could bring in $900 million federal dollars.
“I don’t understand the logic of continuing to refuse a nine to one match when it comes to healthcare and when it comes to insuring at least 200,000 more Oklahomans,” said Representative Emily Virgin (D) House Minority Leader.
Senator Treat responded, “First off, $100 million is a lot of money to come up with. Secondly, you always worry about what’s that match going to do in the future.”
Finally, all sides are committed to spending more on education. How much depends on how much the more state has raised because of tax changes. It should be about $200 million dollars.
The Oklahoma Education Association says, there could be another teacher walkout if the state doesn’t invest another $400 million in education.
“The OEA, we’ll see. We’ll see how many teachers follow their lead anymore,” said Senator Treat.
Governor Stitt added, “But we can’t threaten walkouts and that kind of stuff. That’s not smart. That’s not good.”
The governor plans to lay out his agenda during his state of the state address Monday.