Sanders: Budget Plan Protects Rural Priorities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact: State Rep. Mike Sanders

Capitol: (405) 557-7407

OKLAHOMA CITY – The newly unveiled state budget agreement protects rural priorities, particularly the Rural Economic Action Plan, state Rep. Mike Sanders said today.

“From day one of this session, other rural legislators and I have vowed to oppose any effort to eliminate programs that benefit rural Oklahomans,” said Sanders, R-Kingfisher. “I am pleased our efforts have been successful. Like many areas of government, the REAP program is taking a budget cut this year, but the program remains intact.”

The Rural Economic Action Plan pays for infrastructure needs in rural communities. Gov. Brad Henry’s original budget proposal called for eliminating the program during the downturn.

“REAP grants help protect our rural way of life,” Sanders said. “The program helps pay for fire stations, puts police cars and ambulances on the streets, and even funds tornado sirens, which have proven invaluable this week. I believe the REAP program provides an important public service, which is why I and other rural legislators fought so hard to preserve it.”

Sanders noted the budget agreement also preserves tax credits that help pay for rural volunteer firefighters to obtain training. Early in the session, the governor had also suggested eliminating those tax credits.

“Obviously, in this down budget environment we have to make some tough choices, but I felt it was shortsighted to financially penalize rural firefighters who volunteer their time and risk their lives to protect their neighbors,” Sanders said. “Preserving the firefighter tax credit was another important victory for rural Oklahoma.”

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