This week I attended the Republican Caucus retreat down in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
We heard updates from a number of our committee chairs on items such as the state budget, education, transportation, health care, veterans and military, criminal justice reform, energy and natural resources, tourism, banking and more.
We also all got an opportunity to weigh in on what we thought our priorities should be for the coming legislative session.
First, we heard from our budget chair who explained that even though the prices of oil and gas are coming in a little lower than hoped for, the state is still in pretty good shape coming into the second quarter of the fiscal year. We’ll know more once the state Board of Equalization meets in December to give us our first certified revenue figures to help us begin to craft the Legislature’s portion of the state budget for the next fiscal year.
We also heard from our House Education Committee chair about the hopes for education for the coming year. We have given teachers a pay raise the last two years in a row, and we are looking at adding some more funding to schools so we can get our class sizes down to a manageable level. We also want to make sure we are recruiting more people into this noble profession that is so important to helping us develop our workforce of the future. At the same time, we are looking to further help higher education and our CareerTech system.
We heard an update of the House and Senate Healthcare Working Group that is meeting weekly at the state Capitol. They are looking at the complex issue of Medicaid expansion and helping Oklahomans get healthier so they have better health outcomes. Tobacco use, poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle lead to so many illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and lung disease. If we can help educate Oklahomans on how to choose better habits, maybe we can stop some premature deaths in our state.
Overall, this was a productive meeting. Now, we will start working on bills we want to file for the coming legislative session.
In the meantime, I’m glad the weather has become a bit cooler. I’m sure I’ll see you out and about in the district.
Once again, thank you for allowing me to serve. Please don’t hesitate to reach out anytime. I can be reached at Jim.Grego@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7381.