Alva Review-Courier -

Murdock's minutes

 


0According to Oklahoma’s Constitution, the Legislature must complete all work on the state budget and policy issues to be concluded by no later than 5 p.m. on the last Friday in May – this year the deadline was May 25. This year we fulfilled those responsibilities three weeks before that deadline, and adjourned the concurrent special session focusing on education in mid-April.

There were tremendous challenges to meet, but ultimately, we succeeded in passing the largest teacher pay increase in our state’s history. We also succeeded in funding a pay raise for our hard-working state employees, many of whom have gone nearly a decade without a pay increase. We have continued to work to identify savings and efficiencies, and determine the best priorities for the resulting resources, as well as working to strengthen Oklahoma’s budgeting process. We also approved a series of budget limit bills to ensure legislative oversight of agency spending. The budget is balanced and we will be in the strongest position in many years as we begin looking ahead to the 2019 session.

We’ve continued to seek common-sense solutions to help us better address Oklahoma’s prison overcrowding by finding better ways of holding nonviolent offenders responsible for their actions – programs like our drug courts that are proven to reduce recidivism, and turning lives around through GED completion and family unification. These reforms will also result in savings which can be redirected to education, health, mental health and other core services that will further reduce our state’s prison population.

I’m also very gratified that our houses of worship will now have legal protection when the lives of worshipers are threatened. Oklahomans already had those protections within their homes and businesses, but places of worship were not included in the statutes. The bill we passed this session will extend legal protections to the members of a church who may try to intervene in an active shooter situation. In addition, the church itself will be shielded from lawsuits that could otherwise force them to close their doors.

Finally, I want to mention that this past Thursday evening, I had the honor of attending Panhandle State’s 2018 Commencement – the 108th for the university. Officials anticipated more than 340 degrees would be awarded. For more than a century, OPSU has played a vital role in providing educational opportunities to the Panhandle – opportunities that have changed lives and provided economic opportunity for this district. The 2018 graduates are now a part of that legacy. I want to offer my sincere congratulations to them, the administration and the faculty at Panhandle State.

Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government. You can reach me by calling 405-521-5626 or emailing [email protected]

 

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