Gov. Stitt Calls For Medicaid Expansion & Agency Consolidation In State Of The State Address

Monday, February 3rd 2020, 1:51 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

Governor Kevin Stitt presented the second State of the State address of his administration Monday. The focus was on growing the state’s economy, consolidating state agencies and expanding Medicaid through a plan he rolled out just last week. 

Financially, the state isn’t in quite as strong of a position as it was last year. Revenues are down about 1.7%, or about $115 million. Still the governor wants the legislature to put another $100 million into the state’s savings and expand Medicaid to draw in hundreds of millions of federal dollars.

Stitt started the annual State of the State speech on a positive note, touting policies that increased revenues and reduced costs.

“The number of Oklahomans in our state prisons declined by 7.6% from 2018. As a result, the number of those incarcerated is the lowest level since 2009. This is reducing the strain on our prison facilities and giving us the opportunity to reimagine the future of housing inmates.” Stitt said.

The governor also touted his plan for Medicaid expansion; it’s the plan he laid the groundwork for last week in Washington, D.C. 

“No one who is currently eligible will lose coverage; actually, more than 180,000 Oklahomans would gain coverage under SoonerCare 2.0. We will encourage able-bodied adults to transition towards a path of maintaining private insurance,” the governor said.

“I thought it was telling that the governor was talking about being in Washington, D.C. because that’s exactly where this plan is coming from,” said Representative Emily Virgin (D) Minority House Leader. “This is not an Oklahoma plan. This is a DC plan. This is something the Trump administration is rolling out and using Oklahoma as a guinea pig for.”

Stitt also outlined plans for consolidating agencies to cut back on bureaucracy and cost. 

“Some will cry that consolidation is disruptive. Let me be clear – it will-be for political insiders and those that find comfort in big bureaucracy,” Stitt said.

“If we can do that consolidation, we’ll get healthier outcomes, our roads will be better and Oklahoma will save a lot of money doing it,” Senator Kim David (R) Majority Floor Leader said.

“We heard a lot of what the governor is asking for in terms of give me more power. That’s what we keep hearing from the governor. That he wants to centralize power within the governor’s office. That’s not what the people of Oklahoma have been asking us for,” Representative Virgin responded.  

Stitt did not mention teacher pay raises or a cost of living increase for state retirees in his State of the State address.