The Board of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association met at the OPEA office Saturday, June 5 to discuss Association business and plans for the future.
At the top of the agenda was a presentation on State Question 744, which would change the Oklahoma Constitution to require that K-12 education be funded at the regional average.
Representative Leslie Osburn presented information from the Stop State Question 744 campaign and the devastating effect the question would have on state agencies and services. If the question is passed on the November ballot, the budget for common education would be increased by $850 million, slashing state agency budgets by 20 percent.
“We are not anti public education,” said Rep. Osburn. “All of us have children in the public schools. “However, this would be devastating to essential state services.”
Board members discussed the importance of motivating state employees to spread the word to friends and neighbors. More importantly, state employees need to get out the vote. The measure will be the first on a long ballot of state questions on the November ballot.
Another priority of the Board meeting was a debriefing of legislative session, which was one of the most active in Association history.
“OPEA members, staff and leadership worked tirelessly to make this a successful legislative session,” said OPEA President Connie Stockton. “We knew it would be a difficult year. OPEA was essential in saving jobs, preventing furloughs and preserving state employee benefits.”
Highlights of the legislative session were the budget, insurance reform, and fights to prevent privatization.
The Board discussed concerns with the 2011 budget. The revenue enhancement numbers may be optimistic and some may be challenged in court.
Discussion turned to the state employee health insurance program. The insurance reform legislation is complicated and the turn around on implementation will be short to be ready for the option period this fall. OPEA will be educating members on the changes and monitoring implementation.
OPEA’s victories this legislative session were in fighting privatization and saving jobs. CompSource and child welfare privatization efforts were stopped. Also, several last-minute bills that would have been devastating to state employees were killed the final few days of session.
Members reviewed the financial report and discussed the up-coming audit. OPEA ended 2009 with $313,000 net assets.
Participants heard initial presentations from several potential endorsed product partners and decided to take several meetings to review the products and ensure a quality comprehensive program.