To the Citizens of the Great State of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Legislature:
It is my pleasure to submit for your consideration the FY-2014 executive budget. The plan I have put forward is a responsible, transparent, gimmick-free budget that accomplishes the goals of reducing the tax burden on Oklahoma citizens and holding the line on spending while also improving core government services.
The tax reduction proposal submitted within this budget provides immediate tax relief for hardworking Oklahomans while setting the state on a course to continue reducing the personal income tax in the future. Allowing Oklahomans to keep more of their hard earned money stimulates job growth and makes Oklahoma a more attractive place to locate or expand businesses. This year’s tax cut proposal is a responsible, simple policy that benefits hardworking Oklahomans while still allowing for adequate funding of state services.
Reducing taxes in FY-2014 is only part of the important task that lies before us. My budget proposes strategic investments in Oklahoma’s mental health, substance abuse, child welfare and health systems. By addressing mental illness and addiction, securing safe homes for at-risk children, and providing quality health care for those in need, Oklahoma can ensure all its citizens are cared for in ways reflective of our compassionate spirit.
Continuing to improve our educational outcomes in order to build a more highly skilled, better educated workforce will be essential to maintaining Oklahoma’s impressive economic growth in years to come. That is why this budget includes support for critical education reforms that have been signed into law in recent years, as well as funding to satisfy the state’s commitment to provide health benefits for education employees.
The state’s financial commitment to its transportation infrastructure has increased dramatically in recent years, and this budget continues that trend by ensuring that all transportation funds are used for their intended purpose. Also included in this budget are proposals to address other infrastructure needs that, unfortunately, have been neglected in past years. This includes a $10 million supplemental appropriation to begin immediate repairs to the crumbling State Capitol. We must reach a point where the stewardship we show for the People’s House mirrors our commitment to all infrastructure across Oklahoma.
I ask the Legislature and the Citizens of Oklahoma to come together in support of this agenda. If we do so, I am certain we can continue to emerge as a stronger, healthier state.