Additionally, the budget proposes a $70 million bond to allow the Department of Transportation to complete its eight-year plan on time. We have also approved critical government modernization measures that will generate savings for taxpayers. This budget represents our commitment to fiscally responsible stewardship of public dollars, and our dedication to core services for the people of Oklahoma.
In order to further ease the burden on our education agencies, we also approved supplemental appropriations of $10 million for Common Education, $10 million for Higher Education and $1.4 million for Career Tech.
Major pension reforms approved by the Senate in recent weeks were signed by the Governor. Reducing Oklahoma’s $16 billion unfunded pension liability was a central priority for us this year. The following measures were signed this week:
House Bill 2132 requires that all Cost of Living Adjustments have a funding source, reducing the total unfunded liability between all six of Oklahoma’s pension systems by $5.4 billion;
Senate Bill 377 raises the normal retirement age for new teachers from 62 to 65 years of age and establishes a minimum age of 60 for full retirement benefits for teachers who meet the rule of 90;
Senate Bill 347 requires that municipal employees forfeit retirement benefits if they have been convicted of crimes related to their office; and
House Bill 1010 increases the retirement age for new members of the Uniform Retirement System for Justices and Judges (URSJJ) who started work after January 1st of this year
The Governor has also signed important legislation to regulate abortion-inducing drugs. HB 1970 will protect pregnant women and promote the cause of life in Oklahoma. It is a shame such practices are legal, but as long as they are, we should strive to ensure strict regulations are in place to protect unborn children and their mothers from potentially deadly outcomes associated with the drugs. We are very fortunate to now have a Governor who appreciates the sanctity of human life and will sign such bills into law.
We also finalized our legislative redistricting plan, redrawing boundaries based on 2010 census results. Our state’s population grew by 300,000 in the past ten years, and a significant percentage of that growth occurred in our urban areas. Each district has been redrawn to include approximately 78,000 people. The final plan came within one percentage point of being a completely even population division.
With a budget agreement in place and redistricting plans approved, the Legislature looks poised to adjourn one week ahead of schedule, which would produce significant savings to taxpayers
Please feel free to contact me by writing to Senator Mike Schulz at the State Capitol, Room 418, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, or call me at (405) 521-5612.