Education reform, workers comp top Senate agenda
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
2/06/13 at 4:00 AM
Complete coverage: The Capitol Report is home to all the reporting of the 2013 Oklahoma legislative session.
OKLAHOMA CITY - Senate Republicans on Tuesday released an agenda laden with goals but short on specifics.
"Again, we are focusing on what we can do to grow jobs in Oklahoma, working for a better economy and certainly for a quality of life for all Oklahomans," said Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa.
Gov. Mary Fallin, in her State of the State address on Monday, proposed dropping the state income tax to 5 percent from 5.25 percent.
Bingman would not say what how far his 36-member caucus would go on a reduction, noting that it would largely depend on the number of tax credits and incentives that could be eliminated.
Last session efforts to eliminate or reduce tax credits and exemptions faced stiff opposition from entities receiving them.
As a result, a highly touted tax reduction proposal fell apart.
Republican senators said they were for funding education reforms enacted in previous years but did not disclose a dollar figure.
Sen. Rick Brinkley, R-Owasso, vowed comprehensive reform of the state's "runaway workers compensation system."
He called the system the greatest roadblock to a strong economy.
"Our adversarial system isn't designed to help injured workers get the care they deserve quickly and to get back to work," Brinkley said. "The system is designed to drag cases out and to drive up costs."
A specific proposal by Senate Republicans has not been unveiled, but Bingman said an administrative system, as opposed to a judicial system, is an option.
Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, said his caucus would work to increase the number of doctors and health care professionals in underserved areas.
Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Ardmore, said his caucus would work to restructure and provide more oversight to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has been criticized for how it cares for veterans.
Original Print Headline: Education, workers comp top Senate plans
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
Sen. Rick Brinkley: The Owasso Republican called the state's workers compensation system a "roadblock" to economic development. "Our adversarial system isn't designed to help injured workers get the care they deserve quickly and to get back to work," he said. "The system is designed to drag cases out and to drive up costs."