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State News

February 18, 2014

Around the State

Ada — Okla. House speaker talks Capitol repair, tax cuts

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Newly elected House Speaker Jeff Hickman says his Republican colleagues agree on the need for repairs to the crumbling state Capitol, but that no consensus has been reached on how to pay for it.

Hickman met behind closed doors Monday with the Republican caucus to discuss various proposals to cut the state’s income tax and to hear from the Capitol architect on plans for Capitol repairs. 

Hickman says no consensus has been reached on the specifics of a tax cut or Capitol repairs, but that members do agree improvements must be made to the nearly 100-year-old building.

A Senate committee last week overwhelmingly approved a plan for a $160 million bond issue to fund Capitol repairs and Gov. Mary Fallin strongly supports the idea.

 

Panel OKs teacher pay bills despite lack of funds

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Two bills to increase teacher pay have sailed through a House committee, although a projected shortage of revenue this year makes it’s unlikely the measures will ever reach the governor’s desk.

With educators from across the state packed into a committee room on Monday, a House budget panel unanimously approved the bills. They next will be scheduled for consideration by the full House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

Although legislators from both sides of the aisle support a plan to increase teacher pay, the cost of a pay hike makes it unlikely such a proposal will become law this year.

One of the bills approved Monday to increase teacher pay to the regional average would cost the state an estimated $237 million annually.

 

Baby siamang born at Tulsa Zoo

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — An endangered siamang has been born at the Tulsa Zoo.

A siamang is a primate native to rainforests in Malaysia and Indonesia. The Tulsa Zoo says a female siamang named Sophie gave birth to a baby on Feb. 10. 

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