By Russell Hixson
OKLAHOMA CITY —
Two Payne County lawmakers praised Gov. Mary Fallin’s State of the State address.
State Sen. Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater, was especially pleased with Fallin’s points on education. Halligan said he has been a longtime proponent of encouraging science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education.
In Fallin’s address she said STEM jobs are now growing at a rate that is three times faster than non-STEM jobs, making an emphasis on these technical skills more important than ever. Also important, Halligan said, is Fallin’s support of post-secondary opportunities which lead to valuable degrees that can pay off during difficult economic climates.
Having served on the Stillwater hospital board, Halligan said he was encouraged by the governor’s commitment to make the state healthier, specifically by targeting smoking. He said he has seen the tremendous social burden communities carry because of tobacco.
“I think we are off to a good start,” Halligan said.
State Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, said she enjoyed the governor’s recap of what has been accomplished and agreed with many of the areas Fallin plans to put additional funding. Denney said mental health and education are areas that are underfunded.
But Denney believes the governor can do even better on education, noting massive cuts during the past three years.
“I personally think education needs more money put into it than (Fallin) stated,” Denney said. “I don’t think her numbers will restore the funding as much as we need it to.”
Denney also praised the governor’s emphasis on tackling the states poor physical health. Denney said while Oklahoma’s ranking among other states is low, it can do much better.
Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, R-Cushing and State Rep. Dennis Casey, R-Morrison could not be reached for comment.