A triumphant ending to this year's session may transform into a final week of shenanigans, last-minute deals and reopening sore wounds.
Instead of basking in their accomplishments, GOP legislative leaders are split on several issues they intend to take on this week:
• Whether to attempt a veto override on a House measure concerning state pension plans;
• Whether to eliminate common core curriculum standards legislators approved three years ago for public schools;
• How to deal with two measures calling for providing money to two state museums.
Pension bill, budget
House Republicans will discuss Monday during their weekly closed caucus meeting whether to attempt to override Fallin's veto of House Bill 2077, which would have given some employees hired in 2014 the option of a defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k) plan, instead of the defined benefit plan, which is a traditional pension.
“There are members who want to,” said House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton.
Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said he doesn't support a veto override attempt.
“We've had a great session,” he said. “You'd hate to end session on a negative note.”
It's been nearly four weeks since Gov. Mary Fallin, Bingman and Shannon announced agreements on three key issues: Reducing the state's top personal income tax rate in the 2015 calendar year and a further reduction the next year if state tax revenues don't dip; overhauling the workers' compensation system, and developing a plan for the state to sell unneeded property and underused buildings as well as an eight-year plan on the needs of state buildings. All three items have been passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Fallin.
With that heavy lifting out of the way, lawmakers and the governor focused on finishing a $7.1 billion budget agreement for the 2014 fiscal year, which starts July 1. They announced a budget accord May 2, one of the earliest dates in several years for a budget agreement to be reached.
Legislators were on track to complete their work as early as May 17, but legislative activity slowed down.
A budget spending-limit bill for the state Education Department was delayed a couple of times as lawmakers concerned about the common core curriculum wanted to eliminate funding to implement the curriculum.
Shannon said legislation would be heard this week intended to keep the nationwide academic standards approved by state lawmakers three years ago from taking effect next year. HB 1719 would repeal the 2010 law and also prohibit the state Education Department from enacting new common core regulations without legislative approval.
“A lot of people are becoming very concerned about its ability to open the door for kind of a federal takeover of our education system,” he said. “We've already seen it in our health care system.”
Bingman said a measure to eliminate the common core curriculum has little chance of passing the Senate.
“It's not a federal program; It's a state program in collaboration with other states,” he said. “The policy of the common core is very important. We support that.”
Also thrown into the mix is Fallin. Oklahoma participated in the drafting of the standards with a consortium of states organized by the National Governors Association's Center for Best Practices. Fallin was elected last year as vice chairman of the association and will become chairman of the nonpartisan group later this year.
Lawmakers also are set to tackle this week whether to provide funding to complete the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in downtown Oklahoma City and start work on the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, commonly called OK Pop, in Tulsa.
Lat year senators whooped and hollered after members killed by one vote a $40 million bond issue to complete the Indian museum. The Senate passed a $20 million bond issue for the Tulsa museum; backers didn't seek a vote in the House of Representatives after it overwhelmingly defeated a $200 million bond issue for the state Capitol and other building repairs.
Debate on the measures this week again will focus on state priorities along with new concerns that lawmakers this year declined to give across-the-board raises or bonuses to the state's 34,000 employees, many of whom haven't received a raise in nearly seven years.