OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As the Oklahoma legislative session enters its second week, Democrats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives are laying out their plans for the session.
Organizers say standard Medicaid expansion, continued criminal justice reform, more spending on Oklahoma students, and reinstating a tax break were all key parts of the Democrats’ wish list for 2020.
“If we are looking at what’s best for Oklahomans, this is it,” said House Minority Leader Emily Virgin.
Virgin is very confident in regards to the importance of the plans entitled “Brand New State.” One of the biggest parts of the plan is bettering the economy for Oklahoma worker with a new state minimum wage increase and restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit.
“It’s a proven tool to lift people out of poverty,” said Rep. Emily Virgin, of Norman.
The tax credit affects moderate and lower income families in Oklahoma, and allows them to keep more of their wages, which encourages employment.
“We want those people to be working,” said Rep. Andy Fugate, of Del City.
The Earned Income Tax Credit originated on the federal level in the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan. It was repealed on the state level in Oklahoma in 2016.
“At a time when we were looking for every possible way to save the state money, we did it on the back of those that could afford it the least,” said Fugate.
Some House Republicans agree that it could help around 200,000 to 300,000 Oklahomans.
“I think this is something we could do and not be of great cost to the state,” said Rep. Mark McBride.
Other plans include pushing the acceptance of Medicaid expansion, and continue criminal justice reform with fine and sentencing changes.
The plan outlines a teacher pipeline plan to keep instructors in state and increases spending per student.
Last week, Gov. Kevin Stitt laid down his agenda for the upcoming term in his State of the State address.
As the governor called to put more money in the Rainy Day Fund, Democrats are calling to spend those funds to pay for their plans.
“We are calling for us to not stash money away, but to invest in Oklahomans,” said Virgin.
House Republicans stress to use caution when it comes to unstable energy prices.
“We need to look at 2021-2022. If some things don’t change, I don’t want to get back to where we were in 2017-18,” said McBride.
For a complete list of all the Democratic plans, visit their website.