By State Rep. Rick West
One of the great traditions in the state Legislature is our high school page program, which gives students the opportunity to work at the state Capitol for a week during the legislative session. During this time, students run messages for their representative or senator and they get to take part in a mock legislative session and be elected to various leadership positions by their peers. The program is currently suspended because of COVID-19, but I want to encourage parents and school administrators to go ahead and get me a list of interested seniors. If it does open back up, I can get applications out to you to give them a chance to take part in this wonderful tradition.
An opportunity for college students is our House Internship program. Students enrolled in credit-bearing courses can apply by the last of December to serve during the spring semester. This program gives students the opportunity to be an active participant in the legislative process of our state. House interns will work closely either with professional, nonpartisan staff or their state representatives and will be part of a governing body that produces laws and shapes public policy for the State of Oklahoma. More information about the program can be found here: https://okhouse.gov/Internship/Index.aspx. Interested students can contact my office.
On the legislative front, the state Board of Equalization recently met to certify the revenue estimate of what the Legislature is expected to receive to draft the state budget for Fiscal Year 2022, which begins July 1, 2021. The board estimates lawmakers will have $8.4 billion to fund state services. This is not nearly as bad as some feared with the economic effects of COVID-19 and its effect on businesses this year. The good revenue picture is thanks to the prudent actions of the governor and Republican lawmakers who tried their best to keep businesses open during the pandemic and to get things moving again as soon as it could be safely done. While we want to keep people healthy, we have to have our businesses open to keep our economy strong. This then provides revenue that funds services for those who need them.
Here locally, I’ve had a ball visiting many of our small town Christmas parades. Spiro, Heavener, Monroe, Poteau, Arkoma and Wister have all hosted parades where the crowds have just been great and full of holiday spirit. Seems like we all needed a little fresh air to breathe. And, of course, it’s wonderful to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas – a savior who is Christ the Lord. I welcome His message of peace on earth and good will toward mankind.
With that, I want to wish everyone in District 3 a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Rick West represents District 3 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes part of LeFlore County.