Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Education, Health Care Top Oklahoma OneVoice Agenda

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Education, Health Care Top Oklahoma OneVoice Agenda

Article excerpt

Medicaid, education and workers' compensation reforms head up the state OneVoice agenda for 2013, Tulsa Regional Chamber President and Chief Executive Mike Neal announced Thursday.

Transportation issues - supporting Gilcrease Expressway funding and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation's eight-year plan - appeared twice on the top 10 list of state legislative concerns for this regional lobbying program.

Tax initiatives - as in opposing non-revenue-neutral personal income tax cuts, and supporting efforts to diversify municipal revenue streams - also drew two spots on the OneVoice state agenda, backed by 61 municipalities, chambers and other northeastern Oklahoma organizations.

Health care issues dominated the list with four different items:

* Opposing efforts to opt Oklahoma out of the 2014 Medicaid expansion, as Saint Francis Health System President and Chief Executive Jake Henry Jr. expressed earlier this month when stepping into the Tulsa Regional Chamber's chair position.

Henry said he looked forward to working with Gov. Mary Fallin on developing a new Medicaid plan under the federal law. State Rep. Doug Cox considered it an economic development issue, one that could mean the survival of many rural hospitals.

"I just hate to see Oklahoma tax dollars leave Oklahoma and go to other states and subsidize health care in other states," said Cox.

* Support for a new round of workers' compensation reform.

* Supporting adequate funding for the Oklahoma State University Medical Center and $3 million startup costs for the University of Oklahoma Wayman Tisdale Specialty Clinic.

* Expansion of the OU and OSU medical school class sizes in Tulsa.

But topping the list was preserving and expanding state education funding.

Danny Christner, chief operating officer of John Christner Trucking, said the state needs adequate funding to reduce public class sizes to boundaries mandated by House Bill 1017. …

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