We are a quarter of the way through the legislative session, and work in the House of Representatives has been brisk.
The House passed a $1,200 pay raise for state public school teachers. With the $6,100 average pay increase given to teachers last year, this is intended to take Oklahoma teacher pay to the top in the region. Our teachers are our best classroom resource. We now are focusing on getting more money directly to our classrooms so students have updated materials as we prepare them for higher learning and eventually for the workforce.
The House also has passed a number of bills that will benefit our state’s veterans. These measures were the work of our House and Senate Veterans Caucus. One measure will allow the appointments of guardians for veterans who have no family members or close friends. Once vetted, these guardians can help make healthcare, financial and living decisions for our veterans. Other measures will help ensure information privacy and prompt medical care for veterans in the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs system. Taking care of the needs of those who have given so much in service to our country is of extreme importance.
We’ve also seen some movement on a cost-of-living increase for state retirees, whether they are retired firefighters, police and other law enforcement officers, teachers or judicial workers. A measure has passed committee that will give them a 2 percent COLA and would remove the statutorily required delay so they could receive it this year. We want to protect our state’s pension plans, but we also want to respond to the needs of our state retirees. They have waited for longer than a decade for a COLA while health care insurance costs and other living expenses continue to rise.
I will keep you updated on other issues as the session progresses.
Rep. Ken Luttrell serves District 37 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers Kay and Osage Counties. He can be reached by phone at 405-557-7355 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.