Gov. Stitt Opens Legislative Session With His State Of The State Address
Gov. Kevin Stitt gave his second State of the State address ahead of the Oklahoma's legislative session.
In it, he said the state is "growing in strength, stability and new opportunity for generations to come."
"We are moving in the direction we all want to go: Top Ten in the Nation," Stitt said.
While the state's general revenue fund is estimated to be down almost 1% versus fiscal year 2020, Stitt said the greatest challenge of the state is not the economy but rather government bureaucracy.
"In my first year of public service and as the chief executive, I have found government too big and too broken," he said.
During his address, Stitt said multiple state agencies would need to see reform.
One reform was to see new hiring practices for all state agencies.
"Today, I am calling for reform that requires all new hires in state government, moving forward, to be unclassified," Stitt said. "I am requesting language that allows agency directors discretion to offer bonuses, within the confines of their budgets, for employees to receive a promotion out of their restricted classified positions."
Stitt spoke about reforming health care in the state and how the state will begin the process of rolling out SoonerCare 2.0.
"Oklahoma is currently positioned to be the first in the nation to be granted the Trump administration’s waiver to achieve unprecedented flexibility and accountability in delivering Medicaid to adults," he said.
Stitt said no one currently eligible for SoonerCare will lose coverage and more than 180,000 Oklahomans would gain coverage under SoonerCare 2.0.
The governor also addressed the compact dispute with the Tribal Nations in the state and how that would affect education funding.
On New Year's Eve, the Cherokee, Choctaw and Chickasaw nations filed a federal complaint in the Western District of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. In the lawsuit, the tribes said they are seeking a declaratory judgment of the legal effect of the "shall automatically renew" clause of Part 15.B. of a Tribal-State gaming compact that the State of Oklahoma offered to federally recognized Indian Tribes in 2004.
Stitt said 1.3% of the common education funding came from the state's exclusivity fees on Class III games on tribal casinos in 2019.
"While we wait for the federal court’s decision, I am calling for the Legislature to join me in protecting public education. I am asking for legislation that will allow the remaining cash balance from 2019 and funds from the Revenue Stabilization Fund to be leveraged, if needed, to compensate for any temporary pause in Class III gaming fees," Stitt said. "I also remain confident the State and Oklahoma’s tribes can hammer out a compromise that is a win-win for all four million Oklahomans, and we can accomplish this without putting public education in the crosshairs."
Stitt said he is filing an executive order to address Oklahoma's red tape and hopes to reduce it by 25% in three years.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Oklahoma is competing. Oklahoma is winning. Oklahoma is undergoing the Turnaround that voters demanded," Stitt said. "It may not be comfortable at times. It demands hard decisions and boldness. It requires long-term planning and commitment to one vision."