Legislative forum a success

Shasta Herman
Staff Writer

The Pushmataha County Retired Educators hosted their third Legislative Forum at the Church of Christ Fellowship Hall in Antlers last Thursday. The forum featured questions from the Oklahoma Retired Educators Association membership and the audience.
State Senator Joseph Silk (R) from Hochatown and State Representative Justin "JJ" Humphrey (R) from Lane attended the forum. They both answered questions and visited with attendees. The forum was proceeded by a wonderful dinner prepared by the Pushmataha County Retired Educators membership.
Rattan local, and the Southeast Director for OREA, Stephen Smallwood stated "We pray that the coming session will solve some of the critical issues that face us in education, healthcare, common welfare, and infrastructure, leading to peace of mind and confidence in our elected officials once again."
Vicki O'Donnell provided a voice for the people by moderating the event. O'Donnell asked the state officials questions pertaining to cost of living benefit adjustments for the Public Pension System of Oklahoma. Reminding Silk and Humphrey that it has been ten years since the last adjustment. Silk agreed that an adjustment is well over due, but voiced concerns over where the funds would come from. Silk continued on stating that the budget is already stretched to its limits and he couldn't see where the funds would come from without cutting somewhere else or increasing revenue. Humphrey agreed, stating that members of his family are educators so he understood the urgent need for adjustments.
In regards to adequately funding public education, both responded stating that they didn't feel Oklahoma was where it should be. Senator Silk stated that he would like to revisit his legislation placing a cap on the salaries of Superintendents. This would help to ensure that the salaries of the Superintendents are comparable to the average salary of the teachers they oversee and the school they manage.
The night ended with Smallwood reminding the audience to stay informed, as well as inviting all to attend the next event that the Pushmataha County Retired Educators host.