6.28.06 Gov. Henry
Approves State Budget Boosting Investments,
Providing Tax Relief
Oklahoma City -- In
the wake of the recently concluded special
legislative session, Gov. Brad Henry
has signed 85 bills outlining the state
budget for Fiscal Year 2007.
While there was
absolutely no reason the Legislature
should not have finished its work in
the regular session that ended last
month, I am proud legislative leaders
of both parties joined me in doing some
great things for Oklahoma, the
Governor said. We are making vital
investments to ensure a vibrant economy,
providing landmark tax relief for all
Oklahomans and improving education.
Under the tax relief
package, the top marginal income tax
rate will drop from its current 6.25
percent to 5.5 percent over the next
three years. If the economy continues
to grow, the rate would be lowered to
5.25 percent in subsequent years. The
measure also includes an elimination
of the inheritance tax over the next
three years and a phase-in that raises
Oklahomas standard deduction to
the federal level.
This package will
translate into meaningful tax relief
for all Oklahomans, the Governor
said. As a result, families will
have more of their hard-earned dollars
for savings and investment.
As part of the states
commitment to elevate teacher pay to
the regional average, Gov. Henry signed
Senate Bill 2XX providing a $3,000 pay
increase for every Oklahoma teacher.
always been the cornerstone of my administration.
The first step in building a world-class
educational system for students in Oklahoma
is to attract and retain world-class
teachers, he said.
Oklahoma has great
teachers, but their ranks are raided
every year by recruiters from other
states. I set out three years ago to
raise teacher pay to the regional average
in five years and this pay raise is
a solid step forward towards that goal
of retaining the best teachers in the
The budget also boasts
Gov. Henrys key agenda items for
economic growth and job creation. Senate
Bill 90, for example, appropriates $150
million to establish the EDGE research
The EDGE research
fund is critical to Oklahomas
long-term success, Gov. Henry
said. High-tech research is critical
for a strong economic future, and this
investment will give us an edge in the
global competition for good jobs.
The measure also helps
move Oklahoma to the forefront of research
and treatment for diabetes and cancer.
SB 90 appropriates $12 million for the
University of Oklahoma to establish
a comprehensive diabetes center with
locations in both Oklahoma City and
Tulsa. The bill also directs $14 million
to the comprehensive cancer center under
development at OU.
This vital investment
in cancer and diabetes centers will
increase Oklahomans access to
cutting-edge medical treatment and develop
new jobs in the promising field of medical
research, Gov. Henry said. We
are making great strides toward a healthier
Oklahoma, both medically and economically.
In addition, $45 million
will establish the Oklahoma Opportunity
Fund to help the state close deals when
it is competing to have new or expanding
businesses locate here.
Many times Oklahoma
has made the short list of contenders
in a job competition, but we cant
react fast enough to provide requested
incentives, Gov. Henry said. This
fund will give us a lot more flexibility
and improve Oklahomas chances
of landing new jobs.
Oklahoma motorists are
also big winners in the state budget.
As part of the Governors Road
to Progress transportation initiative,
an estimated $6 billion over the next
10 years will be pumped into the repair
and maintenance of Oklahomas crumbling
roads and bridges.
The annual budget on
roads will increase from $200 million
to $470 million each year. Funding for
county roads and bridges will rise from
$85 million to $170 million annually.
Anyone who has
traveled on Oklahoma roads knows that
many of our roads and bridges need serious
help, the Governor said. Thanks
to this ambitious funding plan, help
is on the way.
The budget also includes
several appropriations centering on
public safety. As part of the Governors
SafeNet initiative against online child
predators and pornographers, the Oklahoma
State Bureau of Investigation received
funding for a fulltime Internet Crimes
against Children (ICAC) unit.
When one in every
five children using the Internet is
approached at some point by a sexual
predator, something is very wrong,
the Governor said. SafeNet helps
law enforcement cast a light on those
who lurk online and seek to harm our
The states war
on methamphetamine is getting a boost,
too. A $500,000 appropriation to the
state Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous
Drugs Control will put more drug agents
on the street to crack down on the importation
of meth from Mexico and other countries.
Our historic anti-meth
law has been a monumental success, but
it is important that we not rest on
our laurels, Gov. Henry said.
The next phase in our efforts
must be directed at trafficking that
originates from south of the border.
That is why we are giving OBN the resources
they need to bear down hard on drug
In an effort to reduce
cases of child abuse and neglect in
Oklahoma, the budget also includes funding
for 100 additional child welfare workers
under the Department of Human Services.
The state budget for
FY 2007 is an estimated $7 billion.