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Oklahoma Lawmakers Still Need to Finish Work From Last Year

Flickr / texasbackroads

As Oklahoma lawmakers deal with the current legislative session, they are also still holding a special session.

Legislative leaders are hoping to get bills heard in committee this week. The bills, crafted on recommendations from the business coalition Step Up Oklahoma, would raise taxes and create reforms in state government.

Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols says he’s hearing one main theme from lawmakers and constituents alike.

“Fix the problem! Stop having these cycles over and over again. Make sure money is well spent. Keep taxes as low as possible, but also get us out of this constant bad press for the State of Oklahoma. This constant special session.”

Bills filed earlier this week include raising $780 million through tax increases on cigarettes, oil and gas wells, income, fuel and wind power as well as caps on three tax credits.

There are also reform bills to include a $5,000 teacher pay raise, creation of the office of accountability and giving the governor direct appointment power over six state agencies.

Echols says he hope to see the bills on the House floor by next week. He says if the bills don’t get passed, there could mean more budget cuts and certainly no pay raise for teachers.

Republican leaders say they have the votes in their party to pass revenue raising measures, but they would need Democrats to join to get the 75% approval required under the state Constitution.

Michael Cross is the host of KOSU's Morning Edition.
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