OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate Democratic Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, and House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, introduced a plan for a “Brand New State” on February 5, the day after Gov. Kevin Stitt unveiled his plans as the new governor.
Brand New State was described in a press release from the minority communications staff as “a unified agenda that seeks to build on the progress made by the legislature last year and take the steps required to make Oklahoma a Top 10 state in education, healthcare, and economic opportunity.”
“The agenda we introduced today is a collaboration between House and Senate Democrats,” Sen. Floyd said. “These are common sense proposals that will move Oklahoma forward.”
Democrats focused their agenda on three core areas that they believe affect the lives of every Oklahoman.
The two caucuses have 35 bills focused on education. The legislation ranges in topics from more classroom funding to accountability measures.
“Our main focus this session is getting more money back into the classroom,” Virgin said. “We started something great last year. A Brand New State looks to continue that progress by investing in our students.”
Democrats in both chambers said the discussion on healthcare has to begin with Medicaid expansion.
“They are all out of excuses not to accept the Medicaid expansion,” Virgin said. “We have already missed out on Billions of healthcare dollars that would have helped our overall health outcomes and our state’s economy. It is time to end this foolishness and bring our federal dollars home.”
In total, Democrats filed 22 pieces of healthcare-specific legislation. Topics range from Medicaid expansion to expanding preventative health access.
Seven Democrats filed legislation to restore the refundable earned income tax credit. Its restoration is a major tenet of Brand New State.
“The earned income tax credit is good for Oklahoma,” Floyd said. “It’s good for Oklahoma families and Oklahoma small businesses. Why would we hand out millions of dollars in corporate tax benefits but not offer tax relief to working Oklahomans?”
Additionally, Democrats have filed dozens of pieces of legislation that focus on worker’s rights, increasing pay for state employee, increasing the minimum wage and making the tax code more equitable.
“Reforming our tax code is important to the Oklahoma worker,” Virgin said. “Our tax structure is too reliant on workers in the bottom income brackets. If we can fix this, their paycheck become worth more, and they will have more disposable income to pay their bills and put back into the state economy.”