02 Mar

Increase in Minimum Wage Rejected by House Republicans

Contact: House Minority Leader Scott Inman
Capitol: (405) 557-7370

Contact: State Rep. Mike Shelton
Capitol: (405 557-7367

Increase in Minimum Wage Rejected by House Republicans

Shelton, Mike

Rep. Mike Shelton (D-97)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Only one House Republican joined House Democrats when a vote was taken Monday afternoon on a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Oklahoma.

Rep. Mike Shelton lodged a motion to suspend the House Rules in order to file an untimely amendment to a House measure in order to raise the minimum wage over the next three years: from $7.25 per hour to $10 per hour.

“It is vital that we use every option available to us as a legislature to help the working people of Oklahoma,” said Shelton, D-Oklahoma City.

According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, nearly half (47.8%) of working-aged Oklahomans who were impoverished in 2013 worked full- or part-time. In addition, 30.5% of the jobs in Oklahoma are considered low-wage. Kids Count, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, reported that 627,000 Oklahomans were living in poverty in 2013.

Proctor, Eric

Rep. Eric Proctor (D-77)

“No one should work a full-time job in the United States and live in poverty,” said Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa. Several states – including Arkansas, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Maine, Michigan, Florida, Illinois, Nevada and New York – have already raised their minimum wage, Proctor related.

In addition, the Cherokee Nation recently raised its minimum wage to $9.50 per hour, Proctor said.

Shelton’s motion was defeated on a 27-57 vote. The proposal was endorsed by 26 Democrats and one Republican, and all 57 votes in opposition were cast by Republicans. Three House Democrats were absent when the vote was taken.


Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives
(405) 962-7819 office
(405) 245-4411 mobile

02 Mar

Oklahoma Democrats Address Muslim Day Attendees


March 2, 2015

Oklahoma Democrats Address Muslim Day Attendees

Muslim_Day_Cropped[March 2, 2015, OKLAHOMA CITY, OK] On Friday, February 27, 2015, Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman, Wallace Collins, and various elected Democrats addressed advocates and supporters in honor of the very first Muslim Day at the Capitol.

Attendees had the opportunity to hear from numerous panelists, including several Democratic legislators, community leaders, and advocates for religious equality in Oklahoma. “It was an honor to be asked to address this group of individuals and equip them with resources to become more involved in the democratic process of our great state,” said Collins.

Panelist Senator John Sparks, Democrat from district 16 in Norman, impressed upon attendees that “there is no substitute for personal relationships” and encouraged everyone, regardless of political, religious, or organizational affiliation to develop and continually cultivate relationships with their elected officials.

Collins echoed that sentiment by saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease and if you’re not getting any grease, then you’re not squeaking loud enough.” He encouraged attendees to get involved at the local level during upcoming precinct meetings and how to move through to become a delegate at the Oklahoma Democratic Party State Convention in May. “You’ve got time, you’ve got talent, you’ve got treasure, and some people have all three,” Collins said emphasizing that everyone has something to offer.

Representative George Young, Sr., of Oklahoma City’s House District 99 said, “How could we have a United States of America if we did not have all of the various, distinct, and diverse kinds of backgrounds that come together that make us who we are? Civic engagement is who we are.” Young went on to say, “It is your obligation to come [to the Capitol].”

Additional information about becoming more active in your local political processes, getting registered to vote, dates and locations for local or statewide Democratic events, or becoming a delegate to the Oklahoma Democratic Party State Convention please visit or call (405) 497-3366.

26 Feb

A Smoke and Mirrors Strategy From Oklahoma Republican Leaders


February 26, 2015

A Smoke and Mirrors Strategy From Oklahoma Republican Leaders

[February 26, 2015 – OKLAHOMA CITY, OK] Oklahomans demand action be taken on key issues while Governor Fallin and the Republican-led legislature continue to show a lack of leadership and refusal to look down the road to what is coming.

“Governor Fallin continues to talk about an increase in funding for public education but that seems to be just more smoke and mirrors from her administration as the legislature seems unified that that is almost certainly not possible this year or next,” says Wallace Collins, Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.

In 2012, Fallin touted the “success we have enjoyed [by] enacting pro-growth policies like those championed by ALEC” would be able to increase state revenues all while eliminating the state income tax and providing tax breaks to large campaign donors. Despite warnings from State Treasurer Ken Miller, she failed to demand fiscal responsibility from the 54th Oklahoma Legislature and now with the bottom out of the oil market, the estimated deficit hole more than doubled from $297 million to a now certified $611 million shortfall.

Seemingly undeterred by the current financial crisis facing Oklahoma, Governor Fallin refuses to rescind or even scale back these goals of eliminating the state income tax or tax cuts that helped only the wealthy in Oklahoma. Instead, she wants state agencies – particularly those that serve Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens – to prepare for additional cuts in funding. Again, an increase in funding for public education becomes more and more like a dream rather than reality.

Oklahoma currently leads the nation in the largest cuts to public education at a whopping 24% since before Bush’s Great Recession, no pay teacher pay raises since 2008, and a teacher shortage of epic proportions.

Sadly, Oklahoma also leads the nation in the number of murders in prison, a sign that no one is safe in our prisons, not even prison guards. Our state prisons are facing dangerous conditions that, like public education, don’t see any hope for relief in the near future. Prison guards are overworked, forced to work 16-hour shifts, and barely make more than $12 per hour. Prisons are understaffed by as much as 40% and we refuse to increase pay and benefits in order to attract new employees or even retain existing ones.

Collins emphasizes that, “The Republican leadership at our State Capitol has allowed the legislature to distract us with issues that should never have received widespread attention in the first place. Instead of dealing with real problems and answering the cries of working Oklahomans, we are fighting over AP History classes and conversion therapy. Governor Fallin’s answer to the myriad of problems we face? More smoke and mirrors! Maybe no one will notice our crumbling state.”

About the Oklahoma Democratic Party

The mission of the Oklahoma Democratic Party is to represent the working people of Oklahoma and the best way to do that is to elect Democrats to all areas of government. Oklahoma Democrats are progressive and sensible. We are optimistic about the future, and we are determined to see Oklahoma’s traditional values upheld. More information about the Oklahoma Democratic Party can be found at or by calling (405) 427-3366.


25 Feb

Oklahoma Democratic Party Adds Director of Communications to Staff


February 25, 2015

Oklahoma Democratic Party Adds Director of Communications to Staff

[OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, February 25, 2015] – This week the Oklahoma Democratic Party announced that Sarah Baker has joined the staff as Director of Communications.

IMG_3286_SmallBaker joins two other staff members, David Scott, Interim Executive Director, and Kimberley Bishop, Finance Coordinator.

Baker formally opened her own marketing and public relations business in 2010, has served as Vice President of Communications for Oklahoma PTA, and most recently ran for the Oklahoma House of Representatives District #43 in Yukon. Baker has years of experience in all aspects of media communications including print, television and radio, direct marketing, social media, and web-based media communications. She has also been an advocate for everyday Oklahomans, worked actively with the Oklahoma legislature for the past 3 years on pro-public education issues and legislative action, and was involved with the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s Character Development Education Task Force.

David Scott said, “I am excited to bring Sarah on and utilize her skills to grow awareness about the Oklahoma Democratic Party. We look forward to the opportunity to improve communication with Democrats across the state and highlight the exceptional efforts of Democrats at the local level and at the Capitol.”

As Communications Director, Baker will not only work directly with the media and focus on communications efforts with local Democratic leaders but will also monitor and report on legislative activity at the Capitol.

The mission of the Oklahoma Democratic Party is to represent working people in Oklahoma and the best way to accomplish that is to elect Democrats to all areas of government. Oklahoma Democrats are progressive and sensible. We are optimistic about the future, and we are determined to see Oklahoma’s traditional values upheld. More information about the Oklahoma Democratic Party can be found at or by calling (405) 427-3366.


02 Feb

ODP State of the State Response


February 2, 2015

Oklahoma Democratic Party State of the State Response

OKLAHOMA CITY – Today Democratic leaders called on Governor Fallin to take a new direction and work with Democrats to focus on building a stronger middle class. We need to begin promoting economic mobility, providing access to affordable health care and increasing education funding for Oklahoma families. The Oklahoma Democratic Party’s response to the State of the State highlights several troubling economic indicators that show that Gov. Fallin’s policies are not working. Among those are the $300 million budget shortfall and a new report from the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy showing Oklahoma’s tax system ranking 16th worst for fairness.


Oklahoma’s obesity and heart disease rates were mentioned in the State of the State address, but the one major option to provide better healthcare to hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans, accepting Medicaid Expansion dollars, was not. The truth is if Gov. Fallin accepted these funds it would provide $15.6 billion in economic growth over the next 10 years, create more than 13,000 jobs and save $692 million by insuring people who are now served at state cost by three state agencies.


She voiced a need for greater “educational attainment” but again no specifics on how to achieve that end. Under the Fallin Administration, Oklahoma leads the nation in cuts to education at -23.6%. How does she intend to restore that funding to meet the increased need in addition to dealing with the increase in student population? Every cut in state funding for higher education has been met with higher tuition rates, meaning fewer students can afford college or career tech. Students end up having higher debt loads when they do graduate. Plus, many students must work while attending school, which means they will most likely be unable to finish during a standard four-year term.


There was absolutely no mention of the problems that exist at the seven Veterans Centers across the state, and similar problems in the private-for-profit nursing homes in Oklahoma.


Governor Mary Fallin’s speech was long on admirable goals, but extremely short on details of how to achieve those goals. She started off saying she wants “safer roads and bridges,” but did not say where the money would come from to rebuild that infrastructure.

Mental Health:

Fallin is late to the game with regards to the needs of people with mental health issues. Oklahoma only spends $53.05 per capita to provide mental health services, falling far below the national average of $120.56. The recidivism rate for offenders going through the drug or mental health court system is only 25% versus the recidivism rate for offenders simply fulfilling their sentence in prison being nearly three times that rate.

Prison Reform: 

How is the governor going to deal with the current prison problem, with our prisons at about 116% capacity and a shortage of staff that has about eight prison staff for over every 600 prisoners? This is an extremely unsafe condition for the inmates and the staff. Additionally, the workers in our state’s prison system have not had a pay increase in over seven years, causing staffing levels to fall to about 60% of needs. Why would anyone want to work under these conditions? How could the governor defend huge salary increases for agency heads last year, when the workers at risk need support the most?


The idea of the legislature only dealing with fiscal issues every two years is so old, it is new again. The Oklahoma legislature used to only meet every two years, but it was decided that to meet annually would be a better way to deal with issues in a more timely way. If the state cannot accurately predict a budget one year in advance, how can it do so for two years in advance? Can you imagine what kind of budget would have come from a legislature that budgeted with the price of oil at $110 a barrel, but has now dropped to less than half that amount? It would be disastrous.

Raiding agency revolving funds is a short-term solution for long-term needs. The legislature did that last session and look at the results. A projected $300 million budget deficit that is probably, in reality, at least $400 million or more. This is just a “Band-Aid” approach for a long term shortage.

“Democrats are ready to work with Gov. Fallin and Legislative Republicans when the focus is on building an economy that works for, not against, the middle class,” said Chair Wallace Collins. “But what we will not support is more of the same failed policies that rig the system and force workers and seniors to pay more just so those at the very top can get more breaks. It’s time for Republican leaders to abandon these failed policies that have left Oklahoma with deficits.”


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