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Senate Republicans put forward their legislative goals today for the 2000 Legislative Session with six major areas highlighted. The Republicans indicated strong interest in economic growth, quality education, tax relief, crime prevention, sound fiscal policy and family issues.
"We believe it's time for Right to Work to get a full hearing by the Senate rather than killed by Senate Democrat Leadership," stated Senate Republican Leader Mark Snyder, Edmond. Reducing Workers' Compensation cost is also a high economic priority. Senator Scott Pruitt from Broken Arrow has authored a bill that replaces the inefficient, costly Worker's Compensation Court system with an administrative one. The bill is designed to reduce the divisiveness and litigation costs of the current system while ensuring injured workers receive adequate and timely treatment. Currently, Oklahoma employers are at a competitive disadvantage in this region of the United States because of high Worker's Compensation costs.
Republican Senators also continue to push for tax relief. "We adamantly believe that working Oklahomans need a break by the repeal of the sales tax on groceries and a major reduction in auto tag costs," said Senator James Williamson, Tulsa. Oklahoma is one of only 29 states left in the nation which still taxes groceries and one of the top ten in the nation in high tag costs. The Caucus also indicated its support for Governor Keating's Estate tax relief proposal and the elimination of Income Tax on retirement income and capital gains. "We believe these tax proposals will be a boon to our economy as well," stated Senator Snyder.
Republican Senators also indicated education remained a high priority this session. "Quality education is critical to our children's future and the growth of our state," said Senator Kathleen Wilcoxson. "This is why we support measures that reward educational improvement and which eliminate social promotion." The Caucus also voiced support for investing in higher education.
Republican Senators further support sound fiscal policies. This includes proposals to require zero-based budgeting on major government agencies at four-year intervals. "We believe it is important that agencies be required to justify every expenditure of taxpayers' dollars," said Senator Jim Dunlap, Bartlesville. Zero-based budgeting accomplishes that purpose. The Republicans expressed concern about the 4.8 billion unfunded liability of the Teacher Retirement System and indicated this issue needs to be addressed immediately.
The Senators further support the Governor's goal of strengthening families by passage of the Covenant Marriage bill. "It is tragic for Oklahoma to rank so high on the divorce statistics," stated Senator Owen Laughlin. "The social cost to children in our state is enormous." The Republican Caucus also addressed health concerns of women by supporting quality health regulation of facilities that perform surgical as well as abortion procedures.
For More Information Call:
Senator Mark Snyder at (405) 521-5622