OPEA members in Region 4 met recently in Atoka with several state leaders, including Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins, Senator Jerry Ellis and Representative Paul Roan and talked about several important issues relating to state employees.
Askins, a long-time advocate for state employees, said: “Privatization is not the solution for long term situations. I do not agree with the privatization of the Department of Corrections to the extent it is involved in our state today. I believe it is time for a complete review of the sentencing process, which encompasses the 85 percent laws. We also need to minimize the Governor’s roll in paroling offenders, but not eliminate the Governors involvement.”
“Lt. Governor Askins expressed empathy for state employees under the current budget cuts caused by declining revenue,” said OPEA Membership Representative Rick Allen. “Attempting to shore-up the eroding budget cuts is going to be a hard task. However, Lt. Governor Askins appeared very confident in her remarks that she and her colleagues were up for the challenge.
“Senator Ellis, who is himself a supporter of state employees, reiterated the concerns of Lt. Governor Askins and her ideas for change,” Allen said. “Senator Ellis and OPEA worked together diligently in finding resolve for the Howard McLeod Correctional Center (HMCC) employees in the fall of 2009,” Allen said.
OPEA member Mark Finch agreed. “Senator Ellis will always have my respect and my vote. When HMCC called out for assistance from Senator Ellis last fall he did not hesitate in joining the state employees at HMCC. If not for OPEA and Senator Ellis I do not believe the employees at HMCC would have been able to resolve their issues with the Department of Corrections,” Finch said.