STILLWATER, Okla. — Sen. Jim Halligan- R, Stillwater, serves Oklahoma Senate District 21, which encompasses Payne County. He serves on the Appropriation, Education, Energy, Finance and Rules committees and chairs the Appropriation Subcommittee on Education.
1 What did you find most noteworthy about the recent legislative session?
A 25 year observer of the legislative process stated that this was the most contentious session in his memory. The debate over Common Core, the third-grade reading test and funding of needed government services were just some of many difficult issues.
2 What issues did the legislature tackle this year that will be need more work in the next session?
The repeal of Common Core, which I voted against since I am convinced we need world-scale requirements in our public schools, will require a major effort to develop college and career-ready standards. We must prepare our students to compete.
3 Is there a particular item you're especially proud of?
I was willing to irritate some important constituencies to press for additional funding for public schools. What we obtained was not enough but it was a good start. Also, I was the only Republican to vote against the tax cut because I felt funding all aspects of education was a higher priority.
4 Is there anything that disappointed you?
My inability to convince my colleagues of the importance of greater funding for all levels of education, namely public schools, career tech, and our colleges. I think the data are pretty clear - better schools and colleges lead ultimately to better jobs. We have a skills mismatch in Oklahoma with many good jobs but we do not have the people who can perform those jobs
5 What issues do you think need to be addressed in interim studies before the next session?
Senators Mazzei, Ford, and I will be conducting hearings regarding the tax credits the state extends to wind power companies. I think they are too large but need to review the data.
I also look forward to interacting with the new Superintendent of Public Instruction concerning improving the Reading Sufficiency Act and her reaction to the statistics that boys are given 70 percent of Ds and Fs while 80 percent of school dropouts are male.