The State House of Representatives swore in all 101 members, including 46 new representatives Thursday, November 15.
Representative Ronny Johns (R), of Ada, is took the oath for the first time. He’s the principle of Ada Junior High, but insists educators turned lawmakers like himself won’t be focused solely on education.
“I don’t think so. Not at all. From the representatives that I’ve talked to, we understand that there’s a lot more problems than just education,” said Johns.
Still, Republicans and Democrats agree education will be tops on the list.
“We gave teachers a pay raise but it’s not enough. We know that,” said Representative Emily Virgin (D) House Minority Leader. “So, we’ve got to make sure that number one, those pay raises that we’ve granted last year are fully funded. And we’ve got to work on step two of that process. Which is making sure they have an even bigger pay raise to keep quality teachers in the state.”
Democrats would like to see teacher pay raised another $4,000 a year. That’s on top of the $6,000 teachers received last year.
But Democrats don’t have the power they’ve had in previous years. Republicans now control the three-fourths supermajority needed to unilaterally raise taxes. Still, Democrats say their votes are still relevant.
“It’s not likely that every Republican is going to vote the same way. And it’s not likely that every Democrat is going to vote the same way. I hope that we see some more bipartisan cooperation this time,” said Virgin.
Republicans and Democrats News 9 spoke with say they’re also excited about working with Governor-Elect Kevin Stitt.
Stitt attended the swearing-in ceremony and received a standing ovation.
Representatives say they’re ready to get to work.
“We have before us some challenges,” said House Speaker Charles McCall (R). “We have before some work that needs to be done on behalf of the people of the state of Oklahoma.”