Dear OREA Members and Friends:
The special session of the Oklahoma Legislature continues at a cost of approximately $30,000 per day of taxpayer money. Just think, that’s about the cost of paying one beginning teacher for a YEAR. A YEAR!
Late yesterday afternoon, sometime after 4:00 p.m., the Oklahoma State Senate approved, on a vote of 37-5, passage of an amended version of House Bill 1035X. Only 5 Republican Senators voted against it. The bill will now go to the Oklahoma House of Representatives for consideration.
This piece of legislation provides a way to fill the approximately $215 million budget hole. It is not where we want to be, but it will address the immediate crisis, including the cuts to the Oklahoma ADvantage program that allows our most at-risk seniors and disabled adults to live in a residential setting. The alternative is to place these citizens in nursing homes—if beds are even available—at many times the COST of living in a residential setting.
Some of the actions in the bill include an increase in GPT from 2% to 4%, $1.50 per pack tax on cigarettes, and increase in the amount of tax on little cigars, and a slight increase in tax on low-point beer that would be in effect for the next 11 months. If the revenue bill passes, then there are funds available for reinstating the Earned Income Tax Credit, a $3000 teacher pay raise, and a $1000 state employee pay raise.
What can you do to help? Please call your state representative and ask them to vote YES on House Bill 1035X. Contact Speaker Charles McCall’s office, along with Rep. Echols and Rep. Wallace, to urge them to allow the bill to be heard on the House floor and to urge its passage. Regardless of party affiliation, it is crucial to contact all representatives as this bill would require a 75% majority vote. If this effort fails, cuts will happen. If you would like to visit the Capitol on Wednesday to meet with representatives, please feel free to make your way there. If you call the office, we will be glad to give you a ride and you can park at the OEA building.
Please contact the OREA office if you have questions.
OREA: 405-525-2230 or 1-800-310-2230
House of Representatives Switchboard: 405-521-2711
Speaker Charles McCall: 405-557-7412
Rep. Jon Echols: 405-557-7354
Rep. Kevin Wallace: 405-557-7368