OKLAHOMA CITY — House Speaker Charles McCall on Tuesday said the vast majority of his members are very interested in business in the state of Oklahoma.
McCall was one of four legislative leaders who spoke to the State Chamber’s public affairs forum.
“It really is an issue that unites all the people in the House because we know the business sector drives opportunity and prosperity for the people of this state,” McCall said.
The House will look at workforce development and adding skilled and qualified workers, McCall said.
Last year, unprecedented investments were made in health care for nursing, he said.
Tax reform will be a priority this year, he said.
“We have chipped away at that the last two years,” McCall said.
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Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said the state had a very transparent process in determining how to spend $1.87 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act.
The state had $18 billion in requests, he said.
Programs that received the funding included projects that deal with broadband, workforce development, health care and water infrastructure, he said.
Moving forward, the state has major opportunities in educational reform and tax reform, Treat said.
“We know Oklahomans want a functioning state government,” said House Minority Leader Cindi Munson, D-Oklahoma City. “House Democrats will continue to be the adults in the room who will focus on the issues that are most important to our constituents.”
She said her caucus will continue to fight to keep public dollars in public schools and not give those funds to private religious schools.
She said to address the teacher shortage, teachers need to be adequately paid and there needs to be an end the rhetoric that puts a target on their backs.
She said if the state wants to recruit the best health care professionals, it needs to create an environment where they are trusted to do their jobs.
“Government overreach into personal and private decisions between patients and their doctors only discourages and turns away new health care professionals,” she said.
A prime example is Oklahoma’s abortion ban, which she called the strictest in the country. The government puts physicians in a position where they can’t adequately and safely care for their patients, Munson said.
“Members of the majority (party) have already announced that they are going to end gender-affirming care in our state,” Munson said. “Again, creating an environment where physicians can not do their job of compassionately caring for their patients.”
Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, said the state needs to address the learning gap, a lack of child care, criminal justice reform and teacher shortages.
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