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Workers’ Compensation Reform and Pay-As-You-Go Infrastructure Plan




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Fallin, Legislative Leaders Announce Agreement on Tax Cuts, Workers’ Compensation Reform and Pay-As-You-Go Infrastructure Plan



OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Mary Fallin, Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman and House Speaker T.W. Shannon today announced agreement and impending action on key legislative items, including income tax cuts, workers’ compensation reform and a plan to address long-term infrastructure needs. Three bills were identified as having the support of both the governor and majorities in the House and Senate.

House Bill 2032 would cut the top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5.0 percent on January 1, 2015. It would cut the rate further, to 4.85 percent, on January 1, 2016. The second cut is contingent on total revenue growth in FY 2016 being equal to or greater than the FY 2016 fiscal impact of a 0.15 percent tax cut. The bill also provides for a total of $120 million to fund repairs to the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Senate Bill 1062 reforms the workers’ compensation system in Oklahoma. It reduces legal costs, medical costs, and excessive payouts to workers that have driven up costs for Oklahoma businesses and encouraged fraud. It moves Oklahoma from a court-based workers’ compensation system to an administrative system, reducing the adversarial nature of the system and reducing the time needed to process claims. It ensures that injured workers are treated fairly and compensated appropriately.

House Bill 1910 creates a Pay-As-You-Go Infrastructure Plan and forms the Long-Range Capital Planning Commission which will first address the repair of the state Capitol and later develop an 8-year plan to address the state’s other maintenance issues. The commission’s plan will create a system for maintenance to address the state’s needs without incurring unnecessary debt. It will also include recommendations on reallocation, reuse or liquidation of state properties.

Fallin said she looked forward to signing the measures into law, saying the announcement set the stage for a productive legislative session.

“My thanks go out to the Speaker and the Pro Tem for working together with my office on these important issues,” Fallin said. “Delivering a responsible, meaningful tax cut will boost our economy and help us to create more jobs and bring more businesses to Oklahoma. Likewise, overhauling our flawed workers’ comp system will reduce costs to employers and allow them to invest in jobs and growth rather than lawsuits. Finally, our long-term infrastructure improvement plan will ensure we are maintaining and improving state assets, rather than watching them deteriorate. Today’s announcement represents an exciting, important step forward for Oklahoma. I look forward to signing these three measures into law.”

Bingman said that workers’ compensation reform would address the state’s greatest obstacle to job growth.

“Today’s announcement shows our commitment to government that is smaller, simpler, and smarter,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “Our broken workers’ compensation system is Oklahoma’s greatest obstacle to job growth, and I believe the time has finally come to put the brakes on our runaway costs. Moving to an administrative system will attract quality manufacturers back to Oklahoma, and together, our tax cut and workers’ compensation overhaul plans are an important step toward creating more certainty in Oklahoma’s business environment. Additionally, our long-range infrastructure plan shows a forward-thinking approach to good stewardship of taxpayer-owned assets. I am thankful for the leadership shown by Governor Fallin and Speaker Shannon as we have worked to craft agreements on issues of such importance to Oklahoma’s future.”

Shannon said the three bills would support Oklahoma growth and prosperity.

“Our offices have come together to ensure a better future for Oklahoma,” said Shannon, R-Lawton. “These three crucial measures prove that the conservative leadership of this state is committed to government efficiency, reducing the tax burden and becoming better stewards of our citizen-funded infrastructure. Through implementing monumental workers’ comp reform, cuts in the personal income tax, and a Pay-As-You-Go infrastructure plan, we are moving forward with responsible policies that will produce growth and prosperity for the people of our great state. As I have said many times before, we will not go down the same path of Washington, D.C., by continuing an endless cycle of taxing, spending and borrowing against the future of our children.”

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Speaker Shannon to Address Cameron 2013 Graduates



Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W Shannon, will deliver the commencement address for the Cameron University 2013 graduates on May 10 at 7:30 p.m., at Cameron Stadium.

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Senate approves tax credit for foster parents



OKLAHOMA CITY - The Senate gave overwhelming approval to legislation Wednesday that would give foster parents an additional financial incentive for taking in foster children. House Bill 1919, by House Speaker T.W. Shannon and Sen. A.J. Griffin, would provide a tax credit for foster parents.

“Most foster parents spend way more on their foster children then they receive from DHS. The monthly supplemental simply isn’t enough to keep up with the cost of supporting a child,” said Griffin, R-Guthrie. “The state is working hard to find ways to attract more foster parents and the best way to do that is through financial incentives. Foster parents can’t list their foster children as dependents on their tax returns like they do for their own children. This bill would allow foster parents to apply for a tax credit, which will help them save money that they can then use to support their foster children.”

HB 1919 authorizes an income deduction for foster care expenses beginning January 1, 2014. The deduction is capped at $2,500 for single persons and $5,000 for married individuals filing a joint return.

“Oklahoma can never reach its potential until we live up to our moral imperative to see after the least among us, and these children are our most vulnerable,” said Speaker Shannon, R-Lawton. “These children face tough situations not having a true home environment for safety, security and sustenance. This deduction will help Oklahomans who have opened their homes to children who are in desperate need of love and hope.”

The enacting clause was stricken in Senate committee so the measure will now be assigned to a conference committee for further consideration.

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GOP looks to broaden appeal



Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I enjoyed talking with MSNBC’s Alex Witt to discuss the Conservative Political Action Conference and the future of the GOP.


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Building A Prosperous Future




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Speaker T.W. Shannon Calls for Moratorium on Fees



OKLAHOMA CITY – The House of Representatives today overwhelmingly passed a measure that would place a moratorium on the fees Oklahomans pay to state agencies for services.

House Bill 1914, by Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon, would place a moratorium on all agencies and prohibit them from creating new fees or increasing current fees through Jan. 1, 2016. This measure would stop the rampant rises in fees and require agencies to disclose and justify current fee levels to taxpayers.

Since 2007, state fees have increased by $113 million – a 38 percent increase in less than six years.

“This measure forces our state agencies to be more efficient with their appropriated dollars,” said Speaker Shannon, R-Lawton. “When a family is out of money at the end of the month, they can’t go raise fees to pay for things they don’t need. Families have to prioritize when they are making a budget and get rid of extraneous expenses, and state agencies should operate under the same principle.”

If approved and signed by the governor, the measure would become effective Nov. 1, 2013. After that point, fees charged by an agency will be required to come forward with a fee justification statement disclosing in detail the reason for the fee charges. An exception to the measure would be in the case of raises mandated by federal law or inflation costs.

The bill will now move to the Senate for further consideration.

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Measure to Reduce State Income Tax Passes House



OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a measure that would reduce the tax burden on the people of Oklahoma.

House Bill 2032 calls for a quarter-point reduction to personal income tax. The current tax rate is 5.25 percent, and this bill would bring the rate down to an even five percent. Governor Mary Fallin called for this measure in this session’s State of the State Address.

“It is important that Oklahomans hold on to more of their hard earned tax money,” said House Speaker T.W. Shannon. “People with more money in their pockets either save, invest or spend those dollars. This is good for the economy and previous income tax cuts have sparked record revenues and prosperous growth here in Oklahoma.”

Speaker Shannon, R-Lawton, said reducing the state income tax would make Oklahoma more competitive with other states in the region and help attract a skilled and educated workforce.

House Bill 2032 will now move on to the Senate .


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