Oklahoma Watch-Out Forum: ‘State’s Dilemma – Where Is the Money?’

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Oklahoma House Speaker Jeff Hickman and Minority Leader Scott Inman are the featured guests at the next “Oklahoma Watch-Out” public forum, which will focus on the state’s challenges in paying for services in the face of a possibly severe budget shortfall.

The forum will be on Tuesday, Oct. 20, from 6-7 p.m. at Kamp’s 1910 Café, located at 10 N.E. 10th Street in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma appears to be sliding into a financial vise, with predictions of a $1 billion budget shortfall that could force the biggest cutback in years in state programs, from health care to education. Is it time to raise taxes, and is that politically possible? What are Oklahoma’s greatest needs for state-funded support and should those areas be exempt from significant cuts?

Oklahoma Watch Executive Editor David Fritze will moderate a discussion about what options state leaders have. Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP to events@oklahomawatch.org and come with questions.

House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview.

House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview.

As the elected representative of District 58, Hickman, a Republican, has represented Alfalfa, Major, Woods and northeast Woodward counties in the Oklahoma House since 2004. He held a number of leadership positions prior to taking office as Speaker, serving as Speaker Pro Tempore from 2010 to 2012 and chairman of the Public Safety Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee. He also was a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committee, Energy and Aerospace Committee and the Agriculture and Wildlife Committee.

Hickman is a fifth generation farmer in Alfalfa and Woods counties. He is a graduate of Cherokee High School and earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Oklahoma, where he received the Letseizer Medal. Upon graduation, Hickman served as assistant to the president and athletic director and was public affairs special projects coordinator and university press secretary in the president’s office. He moved to Woodward, where he was vice president of Omni Media Group.

House Minority Leader Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City.

House Minority Leader Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City.

Inman, a Democrat, was elected to the Oklahoma House in November 2006 and began his fifth term in November 2014. He attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received a B.A. in political science with a minor in Spanish. He received his juris doctorate from the OU College of Law.

Inman, of Del City, put his law practice on hold when he was elected in House District 94 in spring 2006. In May 2009, he was elected leader of the House Democratic Caucus, becoming the youngest person in state history to lead a caucus.

Inman has received various awards, including the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Friend of Justice Award, the George Nigh Award for Young Democratic Leadership, the Oklahoma Public Employee Associaton’s Legislator of the Year.