Contact: Mark Williams
BUDGET LARGELY DRIVES LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, June 8, 2018 – The Research Institute for Economic Development (RIED), a non-partisan organization and producer of the annual RIED Report, a grading system of Oklahoma legislators’ votes on key economic development and business issues, announced today that only three members of the Oklahoma Legislature scored a perfect 100 on the 2018 RIED Report. The scores were awarded to lawmakers who served during the second regular session of the 56th Oklahoma Legislature, the 2017 first extraordinary session and the 2017/2018 second extraordinary session.
Senators receiving perfect scores are Senator Tom Dugger (SD 21) and Senator Ervin Yen (SD 40). Representative Elise Hall (HD 100) is the only member of the House of Representatives to receive a perfect score.
Under the RIED evaluation system, legislators earn points when they support job creation and economic development issues or vote against legislation that is harmful to job creation and economic development. A score of 70 and above represents a passing grade while 69 and below represents a failing grade.
Nineteen regular session measures were utilized to complete the 2018 RIED Report with one bill, HB 1033xx, the Step-Up Plan, heard during the second extraordinary session. The revenue-raising measure was introduced in the House, and while it received majority support during the final floor vote, it did not receive the required three-fourths ‘supermajority’ necessary to be enacted into law. The bill was amended in the Senate, and therefore was not utilized to compose Senate scoring.
“With two special legislative sessions and the second regular session, lawmakers had many issues facing them over the past several months, including filling two fiscal year budgets,” said Mark Williams, RIED president. “Because of the unusual circumstance of legislators being in session for nearly one year, coupled with intense debate on business-related bills such as HB 1033xx, the number of perfect scores this session is down markedly from past sessions. Furthermore, some legislative leaders, who traditionally have very high RIED scores, missed a high volume of votes due to the large amount of time they spent negotiating the final FY18 and FY19 budgets. Some lawmakers did, however, file several anti-business measures intended to broaden the tax base by eliminating proven and viable business incentives. Moving forward it is imperative the legislature consider the true impact that a pro-business environment provides businesses looking to expand into Oklahoma.”
Two House (HD 51, HD 61) and three Senate (SD 27, SD 30, SD 37) seats were vacant for at least a portion of the 2018 regular session. Despite this unusual occurrence, 99 legislative members still received passing scores of 70 or higher, including 36 Senate members (87%) and 63 House members (70%). Overall, 78% of the total legislative membership scored 70 or higher.
“The legislative sessions were challenging on many fronts, however that should not take away from legislators’ mission of supporting a pro-growth and pro-business agenda,” said Greg Love, RIED board chairman. “Although Oklahoma’s economy is showing gradual signs of improvement, it does not erase the need for both the executive and legislative branches to seriously address budget reform and the manner in which fiscal decisions are made across state government. Next session presents a golden opportunity to address this extremely important issue, and I am hopeful the new legislative members, along with our new governor, will come ready to embrace policies and procedures that will advance Oklahoma forward economically. The time is now for that to occur.”
The 2018 RIED Report is available at riedreport.com.
The Research Institute for Economic Development was founded in 1997 and promotes economic growth through the evaluation of business, job and economic growth issues considered by the Oklahoma Legislature. RIED is non-partisan and does not lobby issues, endorse candidates or campaigns.