State employees are joining teachers in the call for more funding and better pay.
The Oklahoma Public Employees Association rallied for change on Wednesday in Tulsa.
Many of the state employees at the rally say the feel like they have been ignored by lawmakers for years and they are hoping that protests like Wednesday’s will bring the change they have been asking for.
“We are just, really, simply getting tired,” said Kenya Johnson, an employee of the Department of Human Services. It’s almost like we keep getting kicked in the butt by the legislature – not the agency, the legislature.”
The OPEA says with each funding cut it gets harder to provide services the community needs.
Tom Dunning, from OPEA, says “state agency services touch every Oklahoman and every visitor to Oklahoma. If you visit a restaurant, if you drink water, if you drive on our roads, you are affected by the services the state agencies provide.”
So, they are raising their voices hoping lawmakers will listen.
They want a $2,500 pay raise for each state agency this year and next. They also want lawmakers to take steps to restore the funding stripped away by budget cuts.
State employee Karen Hanna says, “I have contacted by email 40 legislators and, of those 40, only three responded. And those three legislators were not within my district.”
Many of the protestors were at the capitol earlier in the week. Others say they couldn’t make it to the capitol, but still wanted to show their support.
“We love Oklahomans and we want them to know that we are here for them and we want to support them, but we do need the legislators to support us,” stated Johnson.
OPEA leaders say they are planning on protesting for as long as it takes for lawmakers to act.