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May 24, 2014

State House, Senate adjourn Legislature

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Legislature adjourned the 2014 legislative session on Friday after giving final approval to several hotly debated items, including a $120 million bond issue to renovate the state Capitol and a bill to repeal the set of education standards known as Common Core.

Both the House and Senate adjourned one week before this year’s constitutionally mandated deadline of May 30.

The Legislature waited until the final week to pass several significant measures, including the $7.1 billion budget bill that funds state government for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and a measure pushed by the oil and gas industry that adjusts the tax rate on all oil and gas wells to 2 percent for the first three years of a well’s production.

“It’s been a very challenging legislative session at times and a productive legislative session at times,” Gov. Mary Fallin said. “I do believe the Legislature worked very hard to produce a responsible, productive budget during some very challenging times, especially when we had a $188 million budget shortfall.”

The repeal of the Common Core standards for math and English instruction was the result of increasing resistance from grass-roots conservatives in the state who argued that the standards, which have been adopted in more than 40 states, represented a federal takeover of the state education system.

The bill immediately repeals the standards and directs the Board of Education to work with higher education and career and technology education officials to adopt new ones by next year.

The Republican-controlled Legislature handed Fallin several major political victories during a year in which she is up for re-election, including a bill passed earlier this session to gradually lower Oklahoma’s top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 4.85 percent over the next several years if state revenues continue to rise. Fallin had made cutting the state’s income tax one of her top legislative goals, arguing that Oklahoma’s tax climate is crucial for the state to attract and retain good jobs.

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