Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

June 10, 2011

Session Accomplishments

State Rep. Lisa J. Billy
Oklahoma House of Representatives

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — This year’s legislative session, which was one of the toughest in recent memory, is now officially concluded. While we faced many challenges this year, I believe we accomplished some significant goals.

First and foremost, we approved a balanced budget that dealt with a $500 million shortfall largely by cutting spending, just as working families do in tough times.

Redistricting plans were approved without the issue going to the courts.

We approved lawsuit reforms that will ensure those most liable for an injury are required to pay their fair share of a jury award.

After years of neglect, we finally enacted major pension reforms that are estimated to save our state billions over the next 30 years.

Bills that increase transparency, boost accountability, and incentivize improvement in our schools were also signed into law. Those measures include an “A” through “F” grading scale for schools, the elimination of social promotion, a simplified process for firing bad teachers, and tax breaks that will fund new scholarship-and-grant programs to help both low-income inner-city students and financially struggling rural schools.

We sent a measure to Oklahoma voters that will allow them to impose a 3-percent (or rate of inflation) annual cap on future property tax increases.

We enacted common-sense pro-life measures, banning abortions after a child can feel pain at 20 weeks’ development and ensuring Oklahomans are not forced to pay for abortion coverage when they buy health insurance.

Lawmakers approved corrections reforms that will eventually reduce expenses through the use of community sentencing programs, and we voted to streamline state IT operations, which could eventually save the state about $360 million over the next five or six years.

All things considered, I feel we advanced the policies the voters endorsed last November. While there always remains room for improvement, I believe this has been a successful legislative session.

As always, feel free to contact me at (405)557-7365 or write me at State Capitol Office 302A, 2300 North Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105.