In his first legislative session as Senate Appropriations Chair, Sen. Roger Thompson helped carve out priorities for the 2020 fiscal year budget and determine how best to fund and support key agenda items aimed at moving Oklahoma forward—the end result is a balanced budget that made new investments in core services of government, increased emergency savings and accomplished it all without a tax increase.
“I am just elated with all of the positive things we were able to do in the 2019 legislative session,” said Thompson, R-Okemah. “Last year we had the largest teacher pay raise in history, yet we said at the time this was just the first step. We passed a historic second raise for our professional educators this year, and appropriated more funding for the classroom, for our colleges and universities and for our career-techs. We have much-deserved pay raises for state employees, included our dedicated corrections officers. There are additional investments for state and county roads and bridges, public safety, health and mental health, and to modernize government through digital transformation, helping make the services provided to our citizens easier to access. We’ve also set aside additional emergency savings so we’re better prepared for future economic changes. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished this session.”
Thompson said on the public policy side, every single plank of the Senate Republican’s agenda that was unveiled at the beginning of the year had been accomplished, including legislation to increase government accountability and transparency, a continued commitment to strengthen public education, and common sense criminal justice reform that ultimately will save taxpayer dollars while reducing recidivism.
“I have worked hard on all of those issues this session, including criminal justice reform, but we’ve also increased public safety with legislation to help solve more cold cases by better utilizing technology and a passed a new law helping ensure the rights of victims are protected and strengthened. We also funded two new Highway Patrol Trooper academies,” Thompson said. “I’m also grateful for the support of my fellow members and Governor Stitt for legislation supporting our veterans with a much-deserved tax break for the American Legion and encouraging innovation and savings in state government with Pay for Success programs.”
Thompson also praised the chairs of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittees for their hard work on the budget.
“One of the things we wanted to do this session was empower our subcommittee chairs. When you are surrounded by so much talent, vision and intellect, it was an easy decision to make,” Thompson said. “They did an outstanding job, along with all our members and staff in helping us achieve so much this year. I am grateful for all their hard work and dedication.”
And now that the 2019 session is over?
“We’ll soon be right back at the Capitol looking at the numbers and starting to get ready for next year’s session. I am excited about it and grateful for the opportunity to build on this year’s successes on behalf of the citizens of Senate District 8 and all of Oklahoma,” Thompson said.
Cutline: Gov. Kevin Stitt hands Senate Appropriations Chairman Roger Thompson the pen after signing the FY 2020 budget.