Lawmakers Praised by Higher Ed

Tulsa, OK – Oklahoma House Speaker Chris Benge of Berryhill and Rep. Lucky Lamons of Tulsa were presented with the 2009 Distinguished Service Award by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE) and the Council of Presidents at a ceremony Wednesday at the West Campus of Tulsa Community College. OSRHE Chancellor Glen D. Johnson, OSRHE State Regent Stuart Price and TCC President Tom McKeon recognized Benge and Lamons for their ongoing work for the continued success of higher education in Oklahoma.

"Tulsa Community College has appreciated the friendship and support of Chris Benge and Lucky Lamons for many years," said McKeon. "Chris is not only an alumnus of TCC but has worked tirelessly in his leadership role for the success of Oklahoma colleges. Similarly, Lucky has a long history of making higher education issues a priority both in the state Legislature and locally for Tulsa."
Benge was elected as Oklahoma House of Representatives' Speaker of the House in 2008. He previously served as a state representative serving Sand Springs and southwest Tulsa County district 68 from 1998 to 2008. Benge is a native Tulsan. He was raised in southwest Tulsa and currently resides in the community of Berryhill with his family.

As Speaker he was a leader in putting together the 2008 Endowed Chairs Bond Issue which allowed for a $100 million bond issue to address the backlog of endowment committed by private donors but unmatched by the state. In 2009, he helped create the budget which allowed an additional $31 million to flow to education and for institutions to freeze tuition. As Speaker he has had a pro-economic growth agenda in favor of strengthening the higher education system in Oklahoma.

Lamons served 21 years with the Tulsa Police Department before being elected to the House in 2002. He is currently serving his fourth term representing district 66 Sand Springs and a portion of Tulsa.

Lamons supported the strengthening of OSU medical center in Tulsa and also supported the 2008 endowed chairs bill and bond issue. He continues to be an advocate for all institutions in Tulsa and the surrounding areas.

"Speaker Chris Benge is very deserving of the 2009 Distinguished Service Award. His leadership during a difficult budget year was instrumental in providing an increase in funding for higher education, making a tuition freeze possible. Our State System of Higher Education is very grateful for his actions," said Johnson. "Rep. Lucky Lamons has been a consistent advocate for the needs of our students throughout his tenure in the House of Representatives. His efforts in support of funding higher education institutions in Tulsa and across Oklahoma have benefited the state tremendously and are truly worthy of recognition."

The 2009 Distinguished Service Award has been given throughout the year by the Council of Presidents and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to honor legislative leaders for their service to higher education in the 2009 legislative session. They will honor 16 elected officials this year including seven house members, seven senate members, and two in the executive branch.