OPEA Hosts Enid Town Hall Meeting

Oklahoma Public Employees Association recently hosted a Town Hall Meeting at the Northwestern Oklahoma State University campus in Enid. The purpose was to engage local legislators about the issues state employees are currently facing. Several legislators attended, including Senators David Myers and Patrick Anderson, as well as Representatives Mike Jackson and John Enns. Issues such as privatization, budget cuts, and furloughs were discussed.
“‘Tough times ahead’ is a sign that needs to be posted across all state agency entrances, said OPEA Enid Boomer Chapter President Jim Darst. “Our economic problems are like a series of tidal waves racing across the nation which have started hitting Oklahoma. State employees heard some dismal budget forecasts at the meeting. The only question is how long the economic downturn will continue to affect state revenues.
“The state agencies department directors are being challenged for ways to keep the expected services with less money. Of course no one wants to tell the citizens reductions of expected services will be coming. Several employees told about the added stress brought about trying to keep up the increased demand for state programs with fewer positions,” Darst said. “Other employees told of state employees having to work extra jobs to keep up with the rising health care costs. State employees will not be receiving pay increases or even COLA’s. OPEA will continue working with our local dedicated legislators who understand the impact of the budget shortfalls on the lives of all Oklahomans. I appreciate their efforts,” Darst said.
“I believe it will be a very long recovery. It will take some time to get up the ramp. We’re going to have to make some tough decisions at the end of this year,” said State Representative Mike Jackson.
“I believe we’re in an ‘L shaped’ economy, not a ‘V’,” said Senator Myers. Meaning it will be a longer than expected recovery. “We’ll probably be tapping into the Rainy Day Fund. Right now our needs are greater than our resources. I don’t have the answers, and it looks like we’re going to have to pay the piper.”

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