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Governor Fallin delivers State of the State address

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO) – Monday, Governor Mary Fallin delivered her annual State of the State address, making what she called a "series of bold reforms to stabilize our state."

The address kicked off this year's legislative session, where lawmakers will once again be faced with a severe budget shortfall, about $868 million this fiscal year.

In her State of the State address, Governor Fallin broke our budget issues down into three simple problems -- education, healthcare and infrastructure.

Fallin dove into those three aspects throughout her 45-minute speech but the biggest response came after her comments about teacher pay raises. She said figuring out a way to get those permanent raises is a top priority this legislative session.

"It’s what the public wants, it’s what our families need,” Fallin said. “The pay raise may need to be phased in and may be targeted but it must be done. However, we know a pay raise alone will not improve student outcomes we have to ensure more existing dollars are in the classroom by tackling administrative inefficiencies head on.”

Fallin also introduced a plan to eliminate all sales tax when purchasing groceries.

“This will help all Oklahomans, eliminating the state sales tax is expected to result in annual savings of $350 to $676 for a family of four,” Fallin said.

That plan would also eliminate the payment of income tax for corporations in Oklahoma.

“This provides more transparency as it also eliminates the need for the legislature to pick winners and losers for tax credits,” Fallin said.

On the healthcare side, Fallin again proposed an increase in the tax on cigarettes.

“Smoking remains the number 1 cause of preventable death in OK.  It costs our state $1.62 billion in healthcare costs. The revenue raised from this can be spent on other current healthcare needs,” Fallin said.

Fallin also spoke on the topic of prison reform, addressing the increasing rate of incarceration for drug crimes.

“My budget includes new money for correctional and treatment which includes a $50 million bond issue to build wings on both our men’s and women’s prisons for substance abuse offenders and rehabilitation,” Fallin said.

Fallin ended her speech by telling the legislators she was excited to work with them and saying it was their responsibility to invest in our state's quality of life.

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