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Okla. Senators sworn in with GOP majority for first time in history

Oklahoma City_It was anything but an ordinary day a the Oklahoma Capitol as new state senators were sworn in with the first Republican majority in Oklahoma history.  Since 2007, the Senate has been equally split, and operated und a power sharing agreement that both parties say led to some chaos.  With a clear-cut majority, they say this upcoming session should be more productive.

Southwest Oklahoma Senators Schultz, Bass, and Barrington have been in the Senate during all three stages - when the majority was ruled by the Democrats, when the House was tied, and now with Republican majority rule.  Both Republicans and Democrats say this year's session will be all about change.  "This is the first time that we have had a majority of Republicans in the Oklahoma Senate since statehood, so by all means this is definitely a very historic day for the State of Oklahoma," said Senator Mike Schultz, (R) Altus.

For years Democrats held the majority, and now that Republicans have it, Democrats expect to see some changes.  "I think the guys that have been here 28, 30 years before term limits probably have treated Republicans pretty bad," said Senator Randy Bass, (D) Lawton.  "Now everybody is about on the same playing field - we've all been here."

With the Republicans in the majority, the say some changes may come as a relief to both parties - especially since the last two sessions were tied.  "I firmly believe that our system - our political system - was designed for one party to be in majority," said Bass.  "From that aspect I do believe it will run much smoother this year than it did the previous two sessions."

Republicans and Democrats expect to see changes that they may not agree on, but both parties agree that education in Oklahoma is one of the most important issues.  "I think it's been resounded for a number of years that the first thing I would like to see happen is education funded first," said Senator Don Barrington, (R) Lawton.  "We started by making sure our teachers got through the regional average - I hope they continue that."

All three senators emphasized that Oklahoma is currently in great condition fiscally, and the rainy day fund has more than $800 million surplus.  The economy in the state is strong.  The Oklahoma House also swore its members in on Tuesday, and Republicans have held the majority in that chamber since 2004.  The session is set to begin in February of next year.

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