Highlights: Governor’s State of the State Address

In her address to lawmakers, Fallin
talked about tax cuts, education, school safety, Obamacare, reducing
government waste and spending and standing up to federal intrusion.
She also outlined her legislative priorities and agenda for this

Following are excerpts from the speech,
according to press statement from the governor’s office.

Oklahoma’s economy: Fallin discussed
the dramatic turnaround the Oklahoma economy has made since the Great

“We know we’re on the right track
because the policies we’ve implemented over the last three years
are working. Oklahomans are getting back to work and earning more.

“Our 7.2 percent unemployment rate is
now down to 5.4 percent. Oklahoma families have seen their incomes
rise by over 6.3 percent since January 201l. That’s 44 percent
higher than the national average and second in the nation.”

School safety and security: Fallin
proposed a plan to help local school districts pursue safety upgrades
like storm shelters, safe rooms and precautions against active

“This is a responsible plan for
improving safety and security at Oklahoma schools. We aren’t
forcing new taxes on Oklahoma families or businesses. We aren’t
passing new mandates. Most importantly, we are making our schools

Education: Fallin highlighted plans to
increase educational outcomes for all levels of education.

“I believe that every child can
learn.  Our job as a state is to empower our students, parents
and teachers to succeed by setting the bar as high as we can. …

“That’s why we need to work
relentlessly on two fronts: First, we must improve K-12 public school
results. … Second, we have to increase the number of Oklahomans who
continue their education beyond high school, either by attending
college or a career technology center. A high school diploma is not


Budget reductions: Many agencies in
Fallin’s executive budget receive 5 percent budget cuts
and have
been asked to find ways to operate more efficiently and effectively.

“…my budget proposes targeted
spending cuts and asks our agencies to continue to find ways to
operate more efficiently and effectively and to cut waste.

“In the coming days and weeks, we
know what we’ll hear. Those who like bigger government and higher
taxes will say the sky is falling. Entrenched interest groups and
even some agency heads may say the same thing.

“But guess what? It’s not. The cuts
we’ve proposed this year amount to five percent or less of agency
budgets, and in total amount to about one percent of state spending.
Any business worth its salt can find five percent costs savings
without crippling the services it provides.”

Pension reform and employee
compensation: Fallin called on the Legislature
to work with her to
address the imbalance between state employee pay and benefits. 
She advocated for new hires under the Oklahoma Public Employees
Retirement System to be moved from a defined benefit to a defined
contribution plan.

“…new hires within the Oklahoma
Public Employees Retirement System should be moved from an outdated,
mid-20th century pension system and to the more portable and flexible
401k-style benefits used in the private sector. 

“Businesses made this change a long
time ago, recognizing that the old pension model didn’t appeal to a
more mobile workforce in today’s modern economy. It’s time for
state government to stop playing catch-up.”

Capitol repairs: Fallin asked
legislators to support a bond issue to fix the crumbling State
Capitol building

“Raw sewage is literally leaking into
the Capitol basement. On “good” days, our visitors and employees
can only see the disrepair. On bad days, they can smell it.

“We must begin repairing the People’s
House now. The best, most realistic way to accomplish this is through
a bond issue.”

Rejecting Obamacare: Fallin reiterated
her opposition to the Medicaid expansion in Obamacare

“We cannot plunge this nation further
into debt, or place Oklahoma on a fiscally unsound path, by expanding
Medicaid. Both the president’s plan and alternative proposals that
rely on federal dollars in the Affordable Care Act amount to the same
thing: a dramatic growth in unsustainable government spending.

“Washington wants to lead this nation
in the wrong direction – but Oklahomans will not be led astray. We
will find our own way forward, a better way.

Tax cuts: Fallin called for a .25
percent reduction in the state income tax.

“I believe responsibly lowering the
income tax is the right thing to do. This is the people’s money; it
should stay with the people. It is the people and the private sector,
not state government, that are the true engines of job creation. When
we lower taxes we allow them to invest in their businesses, spend
dollars in the economy, and help to create Oklahoma jobs.”

The governor’s complete speech can be
found at http://www.ok.gov/governor/documents and her fiscal year
2015 Executive Budget is located at

Tim Farley

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