Governor Kevin Stitt ran on a campaign promise of transparency. But Wednesday, he ran from News 9 cameras to avoid answering questions about transparency. Questions that came up as the Senate met to confirm the governor’s choice for budget secretary.
Former State Senator Michael Mazzei is the governor’s pick for the newly created position of Budget Secretary.
“First duty and responsibility is to advance the financial agenda, and strategy of the governor,” Mazzei told senators.
Some legislators in the Senate Committee on Appropriations say that agenda is going too far, with the governor forbidding agencies from giving legislators crucial financial information during budget talks.
“It has been my personal experience that that is true. They cannot talk to me about the budget. I heard that from the secretaries themselves. I’m now hearing from my members that they cannot talk directly with agencies about their budgets, unless they have the governor’s staff approval,” said Senator Roger Thompson (R) Okemah.
Senator Julie Daniels (R) Assistant Majority Whip added, “And then we’re all coming to the table to collaborate and we don’t have full and complete information.”
Mazzei says, some numbers have to be kept from lawmakers during negotiations.
Mazzei replied, “So there’s some level of information that the governor will want to be kept in confidence.”
News 9’s Aaron Brilbeck tried to ask the governor about it as he snuck out of the Senate president’s office, then took off to avoid cameras, refusing to answer our questions or even acknowledge us.
The Senate Committee on Appropriations broke for lunch and was supposed to reconvene in the afternoon, but the meeting was canceled.