Senate Republicans have unveiled their agenda for the 2019 legislative session. State Sen. Stephanie Bice, who holds dual leadership roles as Finance Chair and Assistant Majority Floor Leader, said the legislative priorities her caucus has identified will include key reforms, a continued commitment to education and an emphasis on increased transparency and accountability.
“I’m excited about where we are as a state this session, particularly compared to where Oklahoma was the last few years,” said Bice, R-Oklahoma City. “Much of that has to do with some hard decisions we made in past sessions to strengthen our state’s budget, invest in education and adopt common sense criminal justice reform as well as improving our budgeting process. Our agenda will build on those accomplishments.”
Among the agenda priorities the Senate Republicans outlined was a commitment to honor and protect the $2.9 billion investment in Oklahoma teachers, students and schools.
“Within that commitment is our shared goal of enhancing student outcomes and repairing our state’s national reputation,” Bice said. “It is difficult to attract businesses to our state and develop our workforce if it is perceived we don’t value education. We need to make sure our schools are educating children five days a week.”
Bice said continuing Oklahoma’s effort to enact meaningful criminal justice reform offers multiple benefits for the state.
“Finding alternative ways to hold nonviolent offenders accountable is critical to reversing an unsustainable growth in our prison population,” Bice said. “It’s a reform that will save millions of dollars that can be used to address the need for greater substance abuse treatment and access to mental health care and further enhance education—programs that turn lives around, keep families together and strengthen communities.”
Senate Republicans also support the creation of a legislative budget office to provide greater accountability of taxpayer dollars and to give the governor greater authority to choose leaders at state agencies who will help promote an agenda to turn Oklahoma around.
“Accountability and transparency are essential to building a strong trust between the public and those chosen to be their voice at the Capitol,” Bice said. “These goals are essential to our overall agenda, and one that will help us create an even stronger future for Oklahoma and all our citizens.”