Governor Mary Fallin spoke eloquently in her first State of the State address and touched on the concern of most Oklahomans, that state government has grown too big. I could not be more proud to serve alongside the state's first female governor, especially one who so represents the conservative values of average Oklahomans.
The governor affirmed what I believe to be true - state agencies can continue to operate effectively with less money. Her proposed budget would reduce education funding by 2.9 percent and generally cut agencies by 3 to 5 percent. In her speech, she stated her goals of creating greater efficiency through a statewide transition to paperless billing and payments, a consolidation of IT and personnel services and a uniform financial system to be used by all state agencies. With these cost-savings measures and agency budget cuts, the overall state budget would be reduced by 5.4 percent.
I support the idea of spreading the cuts out in a way so that no agency is given too drastic a budget reduction. Priority state services should receive smaller cuts than agencies that do not provide core services. It was also notable that transportation funding was increased so as to continue the repair and replacement of the state's roads and bridges.
Governor Fallin stated her commitment to addressing the $16 billion in unfunded liability in the state's pension systems and her support of education reform. I could not agree more that it is past time to ensure Oklahoma students receive a quality education and to fix our pension system so that we are able to meet the obligations we have set forth.
The governor's address confirmed that she and lawmakers have the same goals and a similar plan of action. I am looking forward to the Legislature's collaboration with her in moving our state forward.