Oklahoma House Republicans release agenda for session
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Friday, February 01, 2013
2/01/13 at 5:53 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - House Republicans on Thursday released an agenda for the upcoming session that was long on generalities and short on details.
House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, said the caucus will focus on economic opportunity for all, commitment to quality education and investment in infrastructure.
Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, said he filed a measure to reduce the state's income tax to 5 percent from 5.25 percent.
He said it is one of several measures on the subject of taxes.
A tax reduction could be funded by growth revenue and restraining government expansion, Shannon said.
He said the state should prioritize its infrastructure needs and fund them on a "pay-as-you-go" basis.
Shannon said he doesn't believe that lawmakers have the political will to pass bond issues to pay for infrastructure needs.
Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Edmond, said his caucus will pursue additional reforms to the state's pension systems.
"From 2000 to 2010, the unfunded liability of the pension system grew from $6 billion to $16 billion," McDaniel said.
"So on average over the last decade the debt increased by $1 billion a year," he said.
"We took action. We took financial responsibility. We implemented reforms that greatly slashed the unfunded liability of the pension system, but nonetheless, work remains."
House Republicans also vowed additional reforms in the area of workers compensation.
Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, said reforms passed in previous sessions are not working. The state has the sixth-highest workers compensation rates in the nation, she noted.
The goal would be to treat injured workers and lower rates for businesses, Osborn said.
Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, said Republicans will consider using some of the state lottery proceeds that currently go to common education to be used to pay for a teacher incentive pay program.
The lottery is required to give 35 percent of profits to education.
Meanwhile, House Democrats on Wednesday released a priority list that included the budget, health care, public safety and transportation, education and workers compensation reform.
Democrats are proposing a budget that restores funding to core public services after years of reductions.
The House Democratic Caucus will oppose any cuts to the state income tax, said House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City.
Original Print Headline: State House Republicans release agenda for session
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