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Press Releases

Showing: January, 2000

OKLAHOMA CITY - Calling the new requirements unfair to Oklahoma schools and students, Henryetta Senator Frank Shurden has authored SB 1047 that would repeal the course-specific curriculum and honor diploma programs signed into law by the Governor last year.

"I've heard from teachers, administrators and parents across the state who feel that the curriculum requirements of House Bill 1759 were simply a bad deal. The bottom line is, this is going to cause more harm than good. We need to get it off the books," said Senator Shurden.

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A new teacher pay program hurriedly thrown together by Governor Frank Keating contains only "funny money," not a real pay raise, according to the leader of the Oklahoma State Senate.

Wednesday -- three days after Senate President Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor and House Speaker Loyd Benson announced an across-the-board, $3,000 pay hike for teachers -- the Governor unveiled a $2,000 pay plan, but with several strings attached.

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State Senator Kevin Easley is asking Governor Keating to identify a mystery CEO who reportedly told the state chief executive that Oklahoma college graduates aren't making the grade when it comes to job skills.

During an interview on KRMG Radio in Tulsa last week, the Governor recounted a recent conversation with a person he identified only as a "CEO of a Fortune 500 company." According to Governor Keating, the CEO told him that the majority of Oklahoma college graduates could not pass the employment test required to work for his company.

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Citing reports that low salaries are forcing many Oklahoma teachers to leave the state for better-paying jobs elsewhere, legislative leaders unveiled a program today that would give every public school teacher a $3,000 pay raise.

Senate President Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor and House Speaker Loyd Benson said the across-the-board teacher pay plan will be the Legislature's first order of business when lawmakers return for their annual session on February 7th.

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Oklahoma City - The Oklahoma State Senate Republican caucus today called upon the Democrat Senate leadership and the President Pro Tempore's office to schedule Saturday, February 12, 2000, as a legislative session work day for the Oklahoma Senate. "Many of Oklahoma's teachers would like the opportunity to present their views on the current status of funding for common education in Oklahoma and the impact of the current pay structure for their profession.

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Statement by Senator Stratton Taylor
Senate President Pro Tempore

"I don't think the Legislature has any business telling people when they can and cannot come to the State Capitol. They're taxpayers, they own the building and they can come whenever they like."

"As Democrats, we welcome citizens to come to the Capitol any day."

"If the teachers are interested in visiting the State Capitol on a Saturday, we will certainly do everything we can to accommodate them. However, that is their decision to make, not the Legislature's."

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Statement by Senator Stratton Taylor
Senate President Pro Tempore

"I think there's a very simple explanation behind all of the Governor's recent media statements. He's come forward with a smoke and mirrors teacher pay raise program that contains no real money and he's upset because we've exposed it for what it is. I know Governor Keating would prefer that I sit on the sidelines while his media circus rolls by, but I
don't intend to do that."

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"Last week we witnessed another glowing example of the politics of disinformation and misdirection from state Democrats. This time the spokesman was Representative Russ Roach (D-Tulsa). Attempting to draw citizen focus away from the real issue, the fact that Oklahoma's individual auto tag fees are too high, he attacked the low cost of farm, tractor and trailer tag fees. He also took it upon himself to dismiss these fees that have been studied and established by previous legislatures, in essence calling past legislature's work superfluous."

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Federal railroad legislation now before the U.S. Congress could help Oklahoma beef up its passenger rail service, but only if the State Legislature gives Oklahoma voters an opportunity to decide if additional state revenue should be raised for Amtrak.

That according to Senator Dave Herbert, who is pushing for a statewide vote on a proposed one-cent gasoline tax increase, with the proceeds earmarked for rail service expansion.

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Statement by Senator Stratton Taylor, Senate President Pro Tempore

"The fact that Governor Keating has resorted to dragging the tax increase bogeyman out of the closet tells me that we've struck a nerve and demonstrated once again that he is no friend of public education."

"The Governor is obviously upset that we've exposed his smoke and mirrors pay program for what it is -a cheap attempt to pander to teachers without actually giving them a dime of new money. He's trying to pull the wool over teachers' eyes and he's just mad because we're calling him on it."

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Statement by Senator Stratton Taylor
Senate President Pro Tempore

"This sounds like another one of the Governor's smoke and mirror pay programs. It looks like all talk with no money included.

"Squeezing money out of school administrators certainly sounds like a good idea on the surface, but when you realize that school lunches, janitors, school bus drivers, security officers and school counselors are also classified as administration, the idea starts to lose some of its luster.

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A new national study that gave Oklahoma high marks for teacher quality while raising concerns about the low pay of public school instructors should send a clear message to state policy makers, according to the leader of the Oklahoma State Senate.

The message, according to Senator Stratton Taylor, is that Oklahoma needs to raise teacher pay this year.

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Roadside dumping has increasingly become an unsightly problem in Oklahoma, but if a bill authored by Senator Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta is successful this legislative session, relief may soon be on the way.

"Roadside dumping is a widespread problem in the rural areas of Oklahoma," said Senator Shurden. "Although it's illegal for people to leave garbage anywhere except where the state officially permits it, many people leave their trash on the side of the road because they choose not to make the effort to take their trash to a legal dump."

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Senator Carol Martin is proposing legislation to share costs for education administration, resulting in more dollars for the classroom.

"It seems clear to me when only 58 percent of the FY 98 common education funding actually went for instruction, we should take a look at what we can do to get more money into our classrooms," said Martin, R-Comanche.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education recently got a chance to hear some of Senator Martin's ideas on how to do just that.

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Statement by Senator Stratton Taylor
Senate President Pro Tempore

"The numbers are encouraging. We have a lot of commitments to meet, but I think there's still room to address some pressing needs, namely teacher pay. I know a lot of other interests will be competing for the new revenue, but I think teachers deserve to be at the top of the priority list. My goal is to make sure our teachers receive a significant pay hike this year."

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