Education, health care and jobs will be central to Oklahoma Democratic lawmakers’ work at the capitol this year.
Those are the focus of their Brand New State legislative agenda unveiled Tuesday.
Democratic lawmakers support a $150 million increase in classroom spending requested by the Oklahoma Education Association. Senate Democratic Leader Kay Floyd said that can’t be a one-time boost.
"We need to have proper funding, and we need to know that we’re going to have proper funding every single year. It is not fair and it is not practical for our teachers to go literally year to year not knowing what the funding is going to be," Floyd said.
House Minority Leader Emily Virgin said that money can be found through revenue growth and tax credit reform.
Democrats’ main health care proposal is to expand Medicaid, which they say will help keep struggling rural hospitals open and preserve access in those communities. Virgin said they strongly support ongoing criminal justice reform, too, but see that primarily as a health care issue.
"Because we believe that the main driver of our overburdened and overcrowded prisons is because we don’t have access in this state to mental health and substance abuse services," Virgin said.
Among Democrats' job-centered proposals: raising the minimum wage.
"We see many, many people who are having to work two jobs just to be able to pay their rent, pay for gasoline to get to work, to be able to pay for clothing and food for their children," Floyd sayd.
Floyd did not put a number to the minimum wage increase. She said if the state can’t agree on a wage hike, she’d like to see cities and counties allowed to set their own.