By Sen. Roger Thompson
On January 14, 2019, Governor-elect Stitt and all state wide office holders will be sworn into office. Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony, Attorney General Mike Hunter and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister are returning to office while Oklahoma has a new Labor Commissioner, Insurance Commissioner and Treasurer.
roger thompsonThere will be 43 new members of the House of Representatives and 12 new members of the Senate. The first day of the 57th legislative session begins on Monday, February 4, 2019. This is definitely a time for a fresh outlook for the state.
The last few years in Oklahoma have been rather lean years as we have worked our way through the last recession. The resilience of the people of Oklahoma to pull together and work hard has been amazing. For the first time in at least five years, we’ll begin the year with a small budget surplus. Last week, the Board of Equalization provided preliminary numbers of around $612 million. They’ll meet again in February and give the legislature the final number to set the state budget. There is much that can happen in the next six weeks to impact that number including the price of oil and gas. However, there is optimism in the air as we begin a new year with new leadership and a surplus.
Over the past four years, many legislators in the House and Senate have worked long hours and cast tough votes to lead Oklahoma forward. When the legislature passed and the Governor signed the pay raise for teachers last year giving an average of $6,100, they knew it was only the first step. There is still work to do in funding education. There is optimism as we focus on the classroom and student funding. Educational opportunities for our citizens remain a priority. These opportunities include K-12, Career Tech and Higher Education.
We’re also optimistic in working toward solutions in criminal justice reform. Public safety is one of the core responsibilities of government. The question remains how we best can address keeping the people safe while at the same time empowering those who will be released back into the public with an education and job training to be a successful, independent citizen.
We’re optimistic for economic development in Oklahoma. The Commerce Department works hand in hand with local cities and chambers recruiting companies to come to Oklahoma. This past year was a good year in economic growth and 2019 holds the same promise. Aerospace is now our number two economic generator behind the oil and gas industry. Companies are moving to Oklahoma because of the quality of our graduates with engineering degrees but there is a need for more engineers in Oklahoma.
There will be valleys ahead as we navigate the future economic and political terrain. But, I’m convinced that as we begin a new chapter in Oklahoma, we will experience new heights together. We must put the past behind us and not allow it to tie us down and hold us back. Let’s embrace the spirit of optimism expecting good things to happen. We usually get exactly what we expect. Our expectations become goals that we work toward. When we work toward our goals, we are usually victorious.
Yes, there is a spirit of optimism in the air. Let’s take a deep breath and have a great 2019.
If you have any questions or concerns, I can be reached at or (405) 521-5588. You can also write me at the state Capitol at Sen. Roger Thompson, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 537, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.