Success or Failure? Depends on Who You Talk To

By Jason Doyle Oden

Depending on which group you talk to, the just ended Legislative session is considered an overall success or failure.

The Oklahoma Public Employees Association is disappointed in the budget passed by lawmakers.

“The budget passed today jeopardizes Oklahomans’ health, safety and economic wellbeing because it fails to adequately fund basic core services,” said Jess Callahan, OPEA President. “We will have fewer troopers on our highways, citizens will have to wait longer for DHS benefits and access to mental health services will be restricted.”

The OPEA’s executive director, Sterling Zearley believes it will be necessary for lawmakers to back fill holes left by the budget.

“The budget they approved today hurts our citizens and communities,” Zearley said. “If lawmakers don’t come back early next year with additional funds for agencies like DHS we’ll see office closures and staff layoffs at agencies in rural areas and cities. We’ll see troopers taken off our highways due to furloughs or layoffs.”

Meanwhile, the State Chamber calls the session a success.

“The legislature targeted many valuable economic development incentives to raise revenue to fill the $1.3-billion budget gap,” said State Chamber Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Jonathan Buxton. “As a result, the construction, oil and gas, manufacturing, mining and railroad industries will see their tax liabilities increase under several bills adopted this session.”

The Chamber noted that the increased tax burden could have been much higher and the business community will benefit from several pieces of legislation concerning franchisees, seasonal employees, education standards, sales tax fairness and more.

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