OKLAHOMA CITY — The Latest on the Oklahoma Legislature beginning the 2018 regular session (all times local):
Oklahoma House Democrats are giving a cool reception to some of the proposals floated by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin in her final State of the State address.
New House Minority Leader Rep. Steve Kouplen says the series of tax increases and policy changes included in the “Step Up Oklahoma ” plan that Fallin endorsed on Monday “needs to be tweaked.” Some Democratic support would be needed to pass any tax increase in the House.
Democrats want to see the restoration of Oklahoma’s individual income tax to 5.25 percent and some tax deductions that benefit the poor and working-class taxpayers.
Some Democrats also complained that the increase in the gross production tax on oil and natural gas should be higher than the proposed 4 percent.
A group of protesters heckled Gov. Mary Fallin as she wrapped up her final State of the State address to Oklahoma legislators.
As Fallin finished her speech on Monday that highlights the start of the 2018 session, two young women unfurled a banner from the top of the House gallery that included a likeness of Fallin and read: “State of Despair.”
Another woman holding a toddler accused Fallin of being a “liar and murderer” in shouts from the gallery before House sergeants were able to usher her out of the chamber.
Fallin is term-limited, and Monday’s speech was her eighth and final State of the State speech where she outlines her legislative priorities.
More than three dozen Oklahoma House and Senate staffers have received $273,000 in annual raises over the past two years.
The Tulsa World reported 25 Senate employees got $146,000 in raises over the past two years, while the House gave $127,000 in raises to 14 employees effective Jan. 1.
The Senate pay hikes ranged from 1.25 percent to a boost of 66 percent for one worker.
Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz says the raises were for employees who took on additional duties.
Targeted raises for some state workers are not unusual. But the boosts come at a time when public school teachers haven’t gotten raises in a decade and the state workers’ association is asking for an across-the-board raise for rank-and-file workers.
The 2018 legislative session starts Monday.
Gov. Mary Fallin is preparing to deliver her eighth and final State of the State address to state lawmakers who are convening for the start of the 2018 session.
The Legislature will convene at noon on Monday, and Fallin is expected to deliver her remarks shortly thereafter.
Fallin, who is term limited, is expected to push again for a pay raise for Oklahoma teachers, along with a series of tax increases to help pay for the hike and to stabilize the state budget. She also is expected to urge lawmakers to consider ways to curb the state’s growing prison population.
The governor and Republican-controlled Legislature still haven’t fully funded the current year’s budget, and must resolve that issue before working on funding levels for next year.