Oklahoma Business Leaders Call For Reform And Revenue Measures
Package includes $5,000 teacher pay raise
OKLAHOMA CITY – (January 11, 2018) — A nonpartisan group of Oklahoma business, civic and community leaders announced today a combination of reform and revenue measures to drive efficiencies, eliminate abuse and waste, and raise revenue to support a $5,000 salary increase for teachers and to fund core services.
The group has formed “Step Up Oklahoma” with rural and urban representatives from diverse business and organizational backgrounds. The group is united in its desire to work with state leaders to resolve Oklahoma’s budget crisis. The group is advancing a plan that addresses waste and abuse through reforms and ending the boom and bust cycle of state government through revenue enhancements.
Reforms support recent calls from elected officials for greater efficiencies and accountability in state government. Revenues in the plan will provide funding for education, health care and other core services.
“Legislative leaders and the governor are all focused on solutions and this is encouraging,” commented David Rainbolt, BancFirst executive chairman and Step Up member. “It’s no longer enough for business leaders to play Monday morning quarterback. We’ve got to step up to partner with our elected officials in finding solutions and bringing citizen support that helps everyone to make the tough choices that will move Oklahoma forward.” Rainbolt continued, “We must all support efforts to stabilize the budget while at the same time enacting real reforms. Revenue combined with reforms will put our state on a firm foundation to better serve our citizens. While this plan is not perfect, it puts the state on a positive trajectory.” The government reform measures will give lawmakers the tools they need to root out waste and allow time for long-term planning to put into place greater accountability.
“We are serious about the reforms,” commented Tucker Link, founder and chairman of Knightsbridge Investments and an OSU/A&M Regent and Step Up member. “Rural Oklahoma has been hit particularly hard by our budget challenges. Hospitals are closing and schools are struggling to keep their doors open. While many of these reforms will require constitutional changes and take time, we believe they need to be on the table. Oklahomans want their government to run efficiently, and they want quality core services. This plan will do that.”
“Education is the key to building a better Oklahoma,” commented Phil Albert, President of Pelco Structural, OU Regent and Step Up member. “Teachers are the difference makers. To attract and retain fine teachers, we must compensate them adequately. The time to act on teacher salaries is now.” The plan will raise $800 million with over $250 million to support teacher salary increases and the remainder to support core services. “Our citizens want a financially sound and efficiently managed state,” Rainbolt said. “This plan will reverse our course and revive our future for the benefit of all Oklahomans.”
• Increase teacher pay by $5,000
• Revise the state budget to reflect accurate numbers
• Require line-item budgets
• Modify term limits
• Lower the supermajority required to raise revenue
• Establish a budget stabilization fund
• Give the governor direct appointment power over the largest state agencies
• Make the governor and lieutenant governor running mates
• Change the process to fill Supreme Court vacancies
• Create an independent budget office to assist with eliminating waste
• Allow voters to decide the structure of each county’s government
The nonpartisan group developed a broad compromise plan which affects taxes on:
• Cigarettes, little cigars, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes
• The energy industry, including the gross production tax
• Motor fuels
• Wind-power generation
• Refundable income tax credits
• Gaming activities
• Personal income tax
For more information, visit StepUpOklahoma.com.