A months long battle between the governor and the state legislature comes to a head, with the governor vetoing the entire state budget and the funding mechanisms to fill a massive deficit.
But the legislature struck back, overriding the governor’s budget vetoes.
Tensions have been high between the governor and the legislature since budget talks broke down in March. Wednesday the governor vetoed the legislature’s $7.7 billion spending plan and three bills to shift money around to fill a $1.3 billion budget hole.
“I’m not going to put my signature to a budget that’s going to cause us problems not only this year but when we get back here in nine months. Because you know what the conversation is going to be in nine months? Tax increases. And I’m not going to do that on hardworking Oklahomans,” Stitt said.
So, Stitt sent a loud, clear message to the legislature. In addition to vetoing the budget, he also vetoed two bills that would have cut retirement plans for teachers; firefighters and law enforcement to prevent major cuts to schools. And a third bill that would have removed cash from the roads and bridges fund to help fill the budget.
“I didn’t write the budget. I was cut out of negotiations. And that’s something Oklahomans need to know,” Stitt said.
Appropriations and Budget Chair, Representative Kevin Wallace (R) fired back saying, “For him to make the statement that they had no input, the governor has had input all along the way. All along the way.”
Just hours after the budget veto, the House and Senate voted to override it and the three bills to fill the budget gap.
“When you talk about the core values of Oklahoma that’s keeping people safe in a pandemic, that’s keeping our education system strong our budget did all of those things,” said Senator Roger Thompson Appropriations and Budget Chair.
“Times are hard. And the people of Oklahoma deserve stability. And this budget, this is a dang good budget,” Representative Kyle Hilbert (R) Bristow added.
Dang good or not, legislators agree legislative leaders have to mend the rift with the governor.