Brad Henry, a third generation Oklahoman, became governor in January 2003 and was reelected in November 2006 by one of the largest margins for an Oklahoma gubernatorial election. Gov. Henry took office in the midst of the worst budget crisis in Oklahoma history, but he forged a bipartisan agreement among legislative leaders that shielded education and health care from massive cuts. He successfully fought to let Oklahoma citizens vote on an education lottery, which they approved to benefit the state’s classrooms.
During his second year as governor, Gov. Henry crafted a five-year strategy to raise the pay of Oklahoma teachers to match the regional average. He fought for a statewide vote that resulted in the approval of a tribal gaming regulation act to pump millions of dollars into state classrooms. Gov. Henry secured a state vote to fund several vital healthcare initiatives through a modest increase in the tobacco tax.
In the third year of his administration, Gov. Henry continued his pro-economic growth agenda with tax relief, tax rebates, and a workers’ compensation reform package. He strengthened education through comprehensive school accountability, increased teacher pay, and succeeded in an initiative upgrading college campuses across the state. Gov. Henry also worked successfully to provide access for more affordable prescription drugs, to bolster funding for road and bridge repair, and to ensure much-needed assistance for Oklahoma National Guard members and their families.
Gov. Henry’s initiative during his fourth year in office strengthened economic development, health care, education and public safety. He signed into law the largest tax relief in Oklahoma history, launched programs to boost job creation and high-tech research and development and approved an omnibus Medicaid reform bill. In addition, Gov. Henry worked to protect children from online sex offenders, reduce cases of child abuse and clamp down on methamphetamine traffickers.
Gov. Henry was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma and he studied at the University of Oklahoma as a President’s Leadership Scholar, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1985. In 1988, he received a law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He returned to Shawnee to practice law with his father. He was a member of the Oklahoma State Senate for ten years, serving as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and vice-chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee.