Democrats of the Oklahoma State Senate unveiled an aggressive 2007 legislative agenda today. Senate Democratic leaders said the “Oklahoma Rising” agenda includes opportunities for all Oklahomans.
“Oklahoma and its people are truly rising to greatness during this Centennial year, and we felt it was appropriate to reflect that momentum in our agenda,” President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan, a Democrat from Stillwater, said. “Our focus when developing this agenda was with the people of this state; the hard-working, tough-spirited people we meet each time we are back home in our districts.”
Topping the priority list for Senate Democrats this Centennial year include:
· A plan to provide greater access to quality affordable healthcare for all of Oklahoma’s children;
· Protecting Oklahoma workers from illegal competition from non-US citizens by cracking down on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants;
· Ensuring a fair day’s pay for an honest day’s work by raising the minimum wage;
· Greater educational opportunities for all Oklahomans; and
· Protection of our natural resources for generations of Oklahomans to come.
Democratic Floor Leader Charles Laster presented the agenda at a State Capitol press conference.
“Our focus this session will be to do more to make healthcare more affordable for Oklahoma families struggling to make ends meet and give Oklahoma students greater access to a college education if they work hard and play by the rules,” Laster, D-Shawnee, said. “Additionally, we will seek to ensure that hard work pays by raising the minimum wage and we will work to protect our vital natural resources.”
Morgan said Senate Democrats will work in the 2007 session to build consensus, noting that no measure can pass the Senate without bi-partisan support.
“In this Centennial year, when pride in our state is greater than ever before, I truly believe we have an opportunity to make history by working together to make Oklahoma the best place to live, work and raise a family,” Morgan said. “And we will certainly encourage Republicans to join us in our effort to raise Oklahoma into greatness.”
The Democratic Agenda includes:
Healthcare Opportunities for All Oklahomans
Increasing Medicaid income eligibility to close the gap that now leaves nearly 150,000 children in Oklahoma without any form of health insurance.
Continue to work to expand the Insure Oklahoma program which allows small businesses to provide low-cost health insurance coverage for their employees. Increasing income eligibility to make more working Oklahomans eligible to access health insurance coverage.
And there may be other ways to tweak this program which, if fully utilized, could offer health insurance for 75,000 currently uninsured Oklahomans.
Educational Opportunities for All
Providing a dedicated funding mechanism for the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship program and increasing in the income eligibility to give more Oklahoma students the chance to earn a college education.
Tracking the progress of Governor Henry’s Achieving Classroom Excellence (ACE) initiative to ensure Oklahomans are getting the accountability they deserve from Oklahoma schools.
End annual threats of forced school consolidation by allowing Oklahomans to vote on a Constitutional change that will ensure the citizens who live in rural school districts, not politicians in Oklahoman City, have the final say in what happens to their schools and communities.
Addressing the unfunded liability in the Oklahoma Teacher’s Retirement System.
Better Job Opportunities for All Oklahomans
Protecting American workers from illegal competition by cracking down on the employers who are profiting by employing undocumented workers.
Raising the minimum wage so Oklahomans no longer have to work two and three jobs—spending precious time away from their families—just to make ends meet.
Protect our Natural Resources for All Oklahomans
A comprehensive water plan to ensure Oklahoma’s God given natural resources – like drinking water – are preserved and protected for the benefit of Oklahoma families now and in the future.