State of the State Address

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Governor Mary Fallin’s eloquent State of the State address touched on a number of important topics for the 2011 session. I was pleased to hear her commitment to a reduction in state government spending. She believes, as I do, that Oklahoma’s government has grown too big and bureaucratic. I also agreed with her call for a pro-business climate, workers’ compensation reform and true lawsuit reform.

The governor received a standing ovation when she called on state agencies to voice what they could do to become more efficient rather than their opposition to cuts. Her proposed state budget would reduce most agency budgets by 5 percent, reduce education and human services funding by about 3 percent, and reduce health spending by 1.4 percent. While there will be areas of disagreement over budget details, I support the overall 5.4 percent spending cut she has proposed and look forward to the Legislature’s collaboration with her on the creation of a responsible, balanced budget. We’re facing a serious budget crisis and although it’s hard to see cuts made to any important areas, they are necessary with the current economic landscape we face as a state.

The workers’ compensation system in our state has been plagued with problems that hurt our business climate and do too little to actually help injured workers. Frivolous lawsuits have also hurt our state by raising health care costs and negatively affecting businesses. I was grateful to hear that Governor Fallin will support legislative efforts to reform both these systems.

The governor discussed the need for education reform and the fact that in opposing the federal health care law, we must come up with state solutions to local health care problems. I believe that opening the state up to greater competition and true tort reform are important steps to accomplishing our health care goals. I think that we must find ways to get more education dollars into our classrooms and find ways to ensure that those dollars are used effectively.

We celebrated the 100th birthday of President Ronald Reagan this past week. He too advocated for making the government work for the people, not the other way around. The governor’s address confirmed that we have common conservative goals and a similar plan of action. I am looking forward to the Legislature’s collaboration with her in moving our state forward.

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

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