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Higher Education Bond Issue Accord Complete; Hobson Steps Down as Top Senate Leader

Having reached an agreement with Governor Henry and House leaders on a $500 million capital investment in Oklahoma’s colleges and universities, Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson said Wednesday he has accomplished his top priority for the legislative session and will resign as the leader of the Oklahoma State Senate.

“I have devoted countless hours and nearly every ounce of my energy to seeing this bond issue through,” said Hobson. “We still must vote on it in the Senate, but the heavy lifting is complete. Having accomplished my top priority for this session, I have decided to step down as President Pro Tempore of the Senate.”

The bond issue’s 140 projects in 36 cities, Hobson said, will create 4,000 construction jobs and have a more than $700 million impact on the state’s economy.

“Beyond its immediate impact, this capital investment will create a state-of the-art learning and research environment that will further enhance our state’s economy for generations to come,” Hobson said. “Our state has no great economic engine than higher education.”

Hobson said he feels the timing is right to turn the reigns of the Senate over to the next President Pro Tempore.

“I’m actually looking forward to being one of 48 members of the Oklahoma State Senate, representing the people of District 16,” Hobson said.

Hobson was elected to the House of Representatives in 1978 and joined the Senate in 1990. He was elected President Pro Tem for the 49th Oklahoma Legislature in January 2003 and re-elected to the post in January 2005.

Hobson has long been an advocate for education.

As chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee and a co-author of the bill, Hobson was deeply involved in the battle to pass House Bill 1017 in 1990.

Before being elected to the Senate’s top leadership post, he was chairman of the Senate Appropriations Sub-committee on Education and vice chairman of the full Appropriations Committee.

In his first session as President Pro Tempore, Hobson led the fight for passage of Governor Henry’s education lottery proposal. As Senate author of House Bill 1278 and author of Senate Joint Resolution 22, Hobson played a key role in sending the lottery and the Constitutional lock box guaranteeing new funding for education to a vote of the people.

Last year, Hobson won passage of Senate Bill 1252, which sent to a vote of the people the question of state regulation of Native American tribal casinos and increased funding for public schools.

“Thanks to the work of the members of the Legislature who were courageous enough to take a stand for education and to the voters of Oklahoma, we have two new sources of funding for education,” Hobson said. “I am proud to have been a participant in making that happen.”

Also a year ago, Hobson led the legislative charge for an increase in the tobacco tax, which also won approval by state voters in November.

“The result will be a healthier Oklahoma thanks to creation of world-class cancer center, increased Medicaid funding and health insurance for thousands of previously uninsured Oklahomans,” Hobson said.

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