Governor outlines priorities

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

The 2012 legislative session opened with Governor Mary Fallin’s annual State of the State address. The speech outlined her plans to continue working towards the elimination of state government waste, but also emphasized her commitment to core services by providing supplemental funding. Her goal is to make state government more efficient and its programs accountable to their purpose.

The governor unveiled, a new site to help employers and job seekers find one another. Similarly, she discussed the use of technology as a means to streamline communications, making government agencies and programs more accessible. She also called for the Legislature to approve supplemental funding for teachers’ health benefits to ensure each district has enough money for their benefits contracts, which run two months past the current fiscal year.

The governor’s plan to accelerate the current schedule of road and bridge repair is unprecedented. It is with great enthusiasm that I affirm my support for these efforts. There are 706 bridges in the state that are unsafe and badly in need of repair. Her plan would ensure that all of these bridges are repaired by 2020. Furthermore, her resourceful plan will aid county governments by providing repurposed beams from Interstate 40 in downtown Oklahoma City for local bridge repair. She also spoke about her bipartisan, multistate initiative to begin developing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) infrastructure, so that purchasing CNG vehicles will become affordable and practical for Oklahomans. These innovative efforts in transportation will improve our state physically and fiscally.

I would also like to note the appointment of Terri White as interim director of the Department of Human Services. White is currently the commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, evidence of her ability to oversee a large agency. Her experience will provide a smooth transition for a new director to resume leadership.

The House Long Term Care and Senior Services Committee approved House Bill 2566, which would ban assisted living centers from penalizing residents for using the pharmacy of their choice. I would like to thank my constituents, especially those that are residents of assisted living centers, for contacting me and addressing this issue. I will continue to be their advocate on this cause. I agree that local pharmacists know how to provide a better service for the people in their community and my support for House Bill 2566 confirms that.

Lastly, I want to thank the Watonga Chamber of Commerce for inviting me to be the guest speaker at their Chamber Banquet this past week. Nellie, Davis, and I had a wonderful time and appreciate everything the community of Watonga does. Thank you.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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