Oklahoma Senate leadership posts for 2019 were announced today by incoming Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC).
Sen. Kim David (R-Wagoner) will serve as Senate majority floor leader, and Sen. Roger Thompson (R-Okemah) will serve as chairman of the Senate Appropriations and Budget Committee. Their selections were announced via Facebook video this afternoon, and afterward the trio answered questions from NonDoc in the Senate lounge.
“I don’t want people that just agree with me,” Treat said while discussing his colleagues. “Roger and I ran for the same position as pro temp. He had a lot of value that he brought to the table, and at the end of the day, I want people around the table based on their ability and not that they see things exactly as I see them.”
Treat served as Senate majority floor leader in 2017 for President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz (R-Altus), who will be exiting the Legislature owing to term limits. David served as chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations and Budget Committee during the same period.
During the Facebook announcement, Thompson joked that he may have an easier time in the appropriations position than David had during a tumultuous two years where lawmakers faced substantial budget holes.
“I’m going to be completely honest with you. We’re going to have more money next year, which will make this job a little easier,” Thompson said to laughter from his colleagues.
After their video, David noted that she looks forward to working with incoming Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd (D-OKC).
“Sen. Floyd and I have known each other really since she started in the House,” David said. “I have the utmost respect for her. She’s highly intelligent, and we will work well together.”
David said there could be a need for bipartisan agreement to reach the infamous 76-vote threshold for revenue-raising measures if Thompson can successfully craft a “tax reform” plan that all three GOP senators said is long overdue.
“I think we could actually lower our sales tax rate and broaden our base. Those are 75-percent votes to do some of that,” Thompson said, emphasizing that the states surrounding Oklahoma collect sales tax on many items that the Sooner State does not. “Our tax base has continually diminished while our spending habits have gone the other direction. We must have the ability to adjust to 2018 and 2019.”
Urban and rural: ‘The needs are different’
Treat’s selection of David and Thompson means the state’s 57th Legislature will have Oklahoma Senate leadership representation from urban and rural areas.
“I chose them on their talent level and their ability to do the job, not based on their locale,” Treat said. “But it is a side benefit that they are from districts that are not similar to mine because we need people who see it from all perspectives when we are in the room making decisions.
“It definitely is a benefit, because my needs in my districts are not akin to the needs from Sen. David or Sen. Thompson in their districts.”
“We find that the biggest challenge in my district is not Republican and Democrat, it’s urban and rural because the needs are different,” Thompson said. “Our water infrastructure needs are a lot different. The economic development needs. The quality of life that attracts businesses.”
David emphasized differences between urban and rural school districts.
“The education needs are tremendously different between urban and rural areas,” she said.
If lawmakers return for a third special session prior to the swearing in of the 57th Legislature in 2019, the 2017-2018 leadership team would remain in place.