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AM NewsBrief: Jan. 9, 2023

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Monday, Jan. 9, 2023.

Teacher Pay Increase Bill

A state lawmaker and former educator from Tulsa has proposed a significant teacher pay increase this session, and says now is the time to do it.

Tulsa democratic state representative John Waldron has proposed legislation to raise Oklahoma teachers’ base pay by 20%.

It’s arguably the most aggressive teacher pay proposal this legislative session, but Waldron says the time is right, as the state has both a record budget surplus and a teacher shortage.

“It's an inflationary economy, neighboring states have raised their salaries, and we continually export our young people to teach in other states. We can reverse that with a bold teacher salary increase,” said Waldron.

Republican Senator Dewayne Pemberton from Muskogee has also filed a bill to give teachers $6,000 over nine years.

Waldron spoke well of the bipartisanship but still believes his bold approach is the best way to retain teachers.

State Population Growth

New Census data shows Oklahoma’s population has reached a new milestone.

U.S. Census Bureau data shows Oklahoma’s population has grown to over four million residents, making the state the country’s 28th largest by population.

Additionally, Oklahoma saw the 10th most net domestic population migration in the country from 2021 to 2022, with more than 26,000 people moving to the state.

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt says the city was the sixth-fastest growing one in the country over the last decade. Census data shows Oklahoma City is now the 20th most populated city in the country.

2022 Gross Receipts Overview

Oklahoma’s economy reached new heights in 2022. State Treasurer Randy McDaniel announced Oklahoma had record-high gross receipts during 2022.

12-month gross receipts set a new all time high of $17.4 billion dollars. That means revenues from taxes grew by almost 15 percent, indicating a booming economy.

The state’s top financial officer says the increase has been led by consumer purchases and an expanding energy sector. However, he warns economic growth is beginning to slow.

The state - which is known for oil and gas production - saw its gross production tax on oil and natural gas climb - finishing near 27 percent higher than in December 2021.

Other collections that saw significant growth in the past year include income, sales and use taxes.

Inauguration Day

Today is Inauguration Day. Gov. Kevin Stitt and eight other statewide elected officials will take the oath of office later this morning outside the Oklahoma state Capitol. The event formalizes the next four years of executive leadership, which contains both familiar and new faces at the head of Oklahoma's government. The ceremony starts at 11:30 this morning on the south plaza of the Capitol building. More than 2,000 people are expected to attend, along with several hundred students. An inaugural ball is scheduled for this evening at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

Capitol Insider Preview

In the latest edition of Capitol Insider, our podcast taking you inside politics, policy and government in Oklahoma, KGOU general manager Dick Pryor asks Quorum Call’s Shawn Ashley about the upcoming vote to legalize recreational marijuana, Gov. Stitt’s relationship with the new attorney general, expanding school choice, and how lawmakers will allocate money given the state’s strong economy.

"This may be one of the biggest issues before lawmakers in 2023. Gov. Kevin Stitt called for the elimination of the state sales tax on groceries in his 2022 State of the State address. He paired that with an income tax reduction proposal when he called the third special session in May. Neither have reached his desk. But Senate Republicans are working on what has been described as a broad based tax reform plan to be considered this year," said Ashley.

You can hear the full conversation at KGOU.org and on the Capitol Insider podcast. New episodes drop Friday afternoons.

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