At least 23 members of the Oklahoma legislature got a perfect score from the Research Institute for Economic Development for their votes on economic development and business issues.
RIED is a non-partisan organization founded in 1997 and issues an annual report in which legislators are graded on their votes. Eleven members of the state senate and 12 members of the House scored a perfect 100 on the 2017 RIED report.
Four freshmen, Julie Daniels (SD 29), Tom Dugger (SD 21), Lonnie Paxton (SD 23) and Adam Pugh (SD 41), are among Senate members receiving perfect scores. Others are President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz (SD 15), Stephanie Bice (SD 22), AJ Griffin (SD 20), Ron Sharp (SD 17), Wayne Shaw (SD 3), Gary Stanislawski (SD 35) and Roger Thompson (SD 8).
Four freshmen, Rhonda Baker (HD 60), Avery Frix (HD 13), Dell Kerbs (HD 26) and Kevin West (HD 54) are among House members receiving perfect scores. Others are House Speaker Charles McCall (HD 22), Josh Cockroft (HD 27), Elise Hall (HD 100), Randy McDaniel (HD 83), Casey Murdock (HD 61), Glen Mulready (HD 68), Terry O’Donnell (HD 23) and Steve Vaughan (HD 37).
Under the RIED evaluation system, legislators earn positive points when they support job creation and economic development issues. Points are deducted when they introduce or vote for legislation that negatively impacts Oklahoma’s business climate. A score of 70 and above represents a passing grade while 69 and below represents a failing grade.
“Facing a $900 million shortfall, lawmakers filed a broad range of proposals intended to fill the revenue gap including measures to broaden the tax base and to eliminate several tax credits and other proven business incentives,” said Susan Winchester, RIED president. “Fortunately, most of these measures did not move forward. I was especially proud of our new legislators who took a strong stance in opposition to these bills. Positive business growth and job creation are critical to the future of Oklahoma.”
Three House seats (HD 28, HD 75, HD 76) and two Senate seats (SD 44, SD 45) were vacant for all or a portion of the 2017 legislative session. Despite this unusual occurrence, 99 legislative members received passing scores of 70 or higher including 31 Senate members (85%) and 68 House members (72%). Overall, 77% of the total legislative membership scored 70 or higher.
“Stimulating Oklahoma’s economy through pro-growth, sound business policy should always be a primary goal of the legislature,” said Greg Love, RIED board chairman. “Unfortunately, the past three years of budget deficits have shed light on not only the need for continued growth and diversification of Oklahoma’s economy, but also the manner and mechanism for how to appropriate tax dollars. We must collectively devise a more efficient way to operate and fund state government. The legislature has to be willing to endorse and support a pro-business agenda. Our global economy demands it, and in the ultra-competitive marketplace, a small state like Oklahoma absolutely needs to stand out. I urge members of the Senate and House to focus their attention on advancing our economy. The next generation is depending on it.”