With our passage of legislation giving the governor the power to directly hire and fire directors at five of the state’s top agencies, the confirmation process is even more important. It means we must thoroughly vet nominees as they appear before our committees to determine if that nomination should proceed to the floor. It’s a much more robust process, and one I believe is serving the people of this state well.
In addition to working through executive nominations and consideration of amendments, we’re also focused on the budget. Negotiations began months ago, and there is a great deal of agreement in many areas. I think everyone involved in the negotiations concurs that additional investments in education are a top priority. Right now we’re trying to determine how best to direct those funds. The House has voiced it’s preference for an additional raise for teachers. The Senate has preferred to put money directly into the classroom, although our leadership has consistently said the two approaches need not be mutually exclusive.
The teacher raises given last year represented a historic investment in education. A national report shows Oklahoma has since jumped 15 spots from 49th to 34th in average teacher pay in the country. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. When you consider the impact of our low cost of living in Oklahoma, we now have the 11th highest teacher pay in the nation, and we’re ranked 1st in the region.
In closing, I want to thank the members of the state FFA choir who came to the Senate last week to perform for us. The FFA is among many important organizations that enhance the educational experience and character building activities students throughout our state have an opportunity to explore. The FFA helps instill leadership skills, self-reliance, a solid work ethic and service to others, and the choir is a showcase for some of the most talented teens in Oklahoma. Hearing them sing our state song was a thrill, and their performance was greatly appreciated by the entire Senate.
Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to be your voice in the Oklahoma Senate. Please feel free to contact my Capitol office with any questions or concerns you may have about legislation or other issues impacting our state at 405.521.5628 or at email@example.com.