State Sen. Cal Hobson said he was pleased the Council for Bond Oversight had approved a request by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to refinance about half of its $1.2 billion debt. Hobson authored legislation during the 2006 session to authorize such a move. Hobson said the Council could not have taken that action without the passage of HB 2474.read more.
Statement by Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan
“Under the direction of Chancellor Paul Risser, Oklahoma’s higher education system has been on the move.
“Chancellor Risser led the effort to create Governor Henry’s EDGE (Economic Development Generating Excellence) project, focusing Oklahoma’s economic development future on research and the high-tech industry.
“His vision to strengthen Oklahoma’s research capacities will make our state a key player in today’s growing global economy.read more.
Statement by Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan
“Governor Henry’s signature of the budget and tax cut bills approved by the Legislature during last week’s special session is a victory for all Oklahomans.
On Friday, State Senate Democrats killed a Republican amendment to speed up the elimination of the death tax.
“This vote is a clear indication of where senators stand on eliminating the death tax,” stated Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee, the amendment’s author. “Senate Republicans want to provide family farms and small businesses with relief from the death tax more quickly, while Senate Democrats want to make them wait until the year 2010 for this unfair tax to be eliminated.”read more.
The Oklahoma Senate on Friday approved historic legislation to completely eliminate the state’s estate tax over a three-year period. House Bill 1172 was amended to contain language originally authored by Senators Mike Mazzei and Glenn Coffee in Senate Bill 334. In addition to eliminating the tax over a three-year period, the amendment provides immediate estate tax relief to non-lineal heirs such as nephews and nieces, treating them the same as lineal heirs such as children and grandchildren.
Mazzei said the approval of the legislation is a victory for Oklahoma taxpayers.read more.
State Senators gave final approval Friday to the largest tax cut in state history, a measure that will lower taxes for state residents by more than $600 million when fully implemented.
Over the next four years, House Bill 1172 XX will lower the top income tax rate and phase in an increase of the Oklahoma Standard Deduction to the federal level – a provision that will mean 45,000 working Oklahoma families will never again have to pay state income tax. The tax package also includes an elimination of the estate tax over the next three years.
A state senator said he was very surprised when he first heard Senate Democrat leaders taking credit for an increase in the state’s standard deduction, because for years Senate Democrats have blocked Republican efforts to raise the standard deduction for Oklahoma taxpayers.
“Senate Democrats killed my bill to increase the standard deduction during the 2006 regular legislative session, so I was surprised to hear them take credit for this issue in the historic tax cut agreement,” stated Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond.
State Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson called a recently released report on high school graduation rates alarming. She said she is disappointed that State Superintendent Sandy Garrett has failed to explain to the public how high the drop-out rates in Oklahoma actually are and how this impacts the entire state.
The newly released report by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center showed that Oklahoma does slightly better, with 71 percent of students graduating in 2002-2003, compared to a national rate of 69.6 percent.
The Oklahoma State Senate Wednesday approved a $6.6 billion general appropriations bill that included historic investments in public schools and state colleges and universities.
Senate Bill 80XX passed on a 31-15 vote.
The measure, which includes a $3,000 across-the-board pay raise for public school teachers and a $130 million funding increase for higher education, is part of a budget and tax cut agreement reached between Senate and House leaders last week.
As legislative subcommittees put the final touches on the 2007 state budget, Sen. Debbe Leftwich wants to ensure retirees get a much needed cost-of-living increase. Leftwich is calling on fellow lawmakers to make sure retired state employees, teachers, police, firefighters and state law enforcement officers such as highway patrol troopers all get a cost-of-living increase.
Having emerged as a leading advocate for the oil and gas production industry in the legislature, Sen. Cliff Branan has been honored by the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association as Legislator of the Year.
OIPA Vice President of Governmental Affairs Bruce Stallsworth praised Branan for his efforts to support the oil and gas industry in the legislature.read more.
State Sen. Harry Coates says the new Disney and Pixar film “Cars” could be a real boon for tourism in Oklahoma. That’s because one of the main characters in the film is based on a constituent in his district and her Route 66 Rock Café in Stroud.
“I’ve known Dawn Welch for many years and she’s a huge promoter for Stroud, Route 66 and our entire state,” said Coates, R-Seminole. “It’s a windfall for all of Oklahoma that Disney and Pixar decided to make a movie about Route 66.”
Nearly six years in the making, the recent licensing approval of the nation’s first inland spaceport at Burns Flat is representative of the sort of forward-thinking approach necessary to move the Oklahoma economy forward, Sen. Cal Hobson said on Friday.
Hobson said years of hard work by Sen. Gilmer Capps, former state Rep. Jack Bonny and other legislative leaders has laid the foundation for the rapid expansion of the Oklahoma aerospace industry.read more.
A new law intended to keep cases of animal abuse and neglect from going unnoticed will provide important safeguards against tragic cases of animal cruelty, said Sen. Cal Hobson.
Hobson, Senate author of House Bill 1672, said the signing of the new law represented the culmination of years of hard work by many people in an effort to secure protections for animals in Oklahoma.
“(Senate Democrat leader Mike) Morgan said legislators will have to be cautious about tax cuts the next four years. ‘We can't get tax-cut crazy. And when we come back next year, we need to think about what we've done this year’.” – Reported in The Oklahoman, June 16, 2006.
Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee said that comments made Thursday by the Senate’s Democrat leader make him concerned that Senate Democrats may try to block parts of a historic tax cut agreement next year.read more.
State Senator Jim Wilson, Chair of the Senate Tourism and Wildlife Committee said Oklahoma’s state parks and resorts will be open for the July 4 weekend even if there is a state government shutdown.
Wilson (D-Tahlequah) said there is enough generated revenue to keep them open.
“I want to make it clear to everyone, including the lieutenant governor, that Oklahoma’s state parks and resorts will be open during the July 4 holiday weekend,” Wilson said. “There will be no shutdown. It will be business as normal.”read more.
Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan said Friday that the tax cut and budget framework agreed to by state leaders is an historic victory for working and middle class families in Oklahoma.
The agreement includes raising the Oklahoma standard deduction to the level of the federal standard deduction over the next four years – a provision that will historically and dramatically change the tax structure in Oklahoma.
Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee of Oklahoma City commented on the budget agreement by House Speaker Todd Hiett, Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan, and Gov. Brad Henry.
“Thankfully Senate Democrats have backed down from their obstructionism that brought us to the brink of a government shutdown. If Republicans ran the State Senate, the state budget would have been completed on time and this costly special session would not have been necessary,” stated Coffee.read more.
Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee said he is disappointed that Senate leader Mike Morgan and the Senate Democrats have refused to consider a Senate GOP proposal that could prevent a government shutdown from occurring on July 1.
“It is very disappointing that Sen. Morgan and Senate Democrats have refused to consider our proposal to pass a stand-still, stop-gap budget bill to prevent a government shutdown if a final budget agreement is not in place by July 1,” Coffee said.read more.