I have received numerous questions about teacher pay raises. The House passed a bill for teacher pay raises and has a plan for funding it, but it is unclear if the Senate will approve the budget plan the House submitted.
During the campaign, I received overwhelming support for teacher raises. I want to express that I support a teacher raise; my amazing wife is a teacher. But, I must be clear; if it is a choice between teacher raises and closing schools, I will choose to keep our schools open.
I hope both the House and Senate can work together to fund all of state government including our much deserving teachers. As a retired state employee, I want to remind everyone that state workers, retired teachers, retired state workers, and private workers all could use a pay raise. That’s includes the majority of the citizens in Oklahoma.
I want to report that I am very proud to have my first bill sent to the Governor’s office. House Bill 1149 creates the Choctaw Code Talkers Bridge Naming Program Act. The program authorizes the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to designate bridges honoring the Choctaw Code Talkers. The Choctaw Code Talkers were a group of Choctaw Native Americans from Oklahoma who pioneered the use of Native American language as military code that was used during World-War I. I am delighted to be a part of honoring our war heroes. I also want to thank Nuchi Nashoba for her hard work to make sure these heroes’ service did not go unnoticed.
For the last two weeks the house has been in a heated debate over the budget. I did not realize the complications of this process. You have parties that cannot work together, and even within the same party there can be various disagreements. Each representative has very different regions and very different constituent needs. Add to this getting the House, the Senate, and the governor to agree on a budget; it will be nothing short of a miracle.
As I write this column, I must admit I was growing very frustrated in the process of politics. However, I had to stop writing to listen to our state FFA Choir sing the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America. In this beautiful building, wow it was impressive and it inspired me to work harder. My recent health issues forced me to realize how precious our time is, how much we should try to live at peace with each other and do right for our community. I will work hard to represent District 19 and the needs and concerns of our district. That means real income for schools, counties, and hospitals. I encourage each reader to learn facts about taxes. I do not support taxes on the poor or middle class that do little to increase state revenue.
I do support taxes increases that will truly replace recurring state revenue. Our state has large special interest groups that have a huge impact on our economy and have immense power in our political process. However, it is time to admit that the decline in our state revenue is directly related to reducing gross production tax (GPT) to 2 percent. For me it seems simple: special interest or schools, counties, and hospitals. I can promise you there are people who feel just as strongly and disagree with my opinions. I hope that all of us will work together to reach a budget that will be good for Oklahoma.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3 NIV
Justin Humphrey represents Oklahoma House District 19. He can be reached at (405) 557-7382 or Justin.Humphrey@okhouse.gov.