Gov. Fallin to legislature: 'Let's get to work' - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Gov. Fallin to legislature: 'Let's get to work'

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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin delivers her final State of the State address to the state legislature. (Courtesy OETA) Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin delivers her final State of the State address to the state legislature. (Courtesy OETA)

OKLAHOMA CITY  -- Gov. Mary Fallin delivered her eighth and final State of the State address to Oklahoma lawmakers Monday as they convened for the start of the 2018 session.

Fallin, who is term limited, again pushed for a pay raise for Oklahoma teachers, along with a series of tax increases to help pay for the hike and to stabilize the state budget.

"What kind of future do we want to have?" she asked. "Do we find it acceptable to have four-day school weeks? Is it acceptable for Texas to steal our teachers and leave our classrooms short of teachers?"

The Republican governor said this is a defining moment for Oklahoma.

"We have two clear choices: We can continue down a path of sliding backwards, or the second path is to say, 'Enough is enough! We can do better! Our children deserve better!'" she said.

Fallin also urged lawmakers to consider ways to curb the state's growing prison population.

"There are bills proposed by the Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force that are smart, data-driven solutions to safely and prudently fix our criminal justice system," the governor said. "Send them to me to sign."

A group of protesters heckled Fallin as she wrapped up her address. Two young women unfurled a banner from the top of the House gallery that included a likeness of the governor and read: "State of Despair."

Another woman holding a toddler accused Fallin of being a "liar and murderer" in shouts from the gallery before House sergeants were able to usher her out of the chamber.

Oklahoma House Democrats offered a cool reception to some of the proposals floated by Fallin. 

New House Minority Leader Rep. Steve Kouplen said the series of tax increases and policy changes included in the "Step Up Oklahoma " plan that Fallin endorsed on Monday "needs to be tweaked." Some Democratic support would be needed to pass any tax increase in the House.

Democrats want to see the restoration of Oklahoma's individual income tax to 5.25 percent and some tax deductions that benefit the poor and working-class taxpayers.

Some Democrats also complained that the increase in the gross production tax on oil and natural gas should be higher than the proposed 4 percent.

The governor and Republican-controlled Legislature still haven't fully funded the current year's budget, and must resolve that issue before working on funding levels for next year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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