Gov. Kevin Stitt delivered a 38-minute speech to a joint session of the Oklahoma legislature on Monday. He said the State of Oklahoma is “strong” in his third annual address.
“The state of our state is strong because we are resilient and well positioned for a bright future,” Stitt said.
The governor acknowledged the more than 3,500 Oklahomans who have died of COVID-19 but also took credit for an early economic reopening saving our economy.
“It appears now other states are waking up to the stark reality of double-digit unemployment, huge budget deficits and the fact that our kids are safer at school than anywhere else,” Stitt told lawmakers. “They're realizing we took the smart approach in Oklahoma.”
“While we heard a rosy picture from the governor today, the reality is his actions - or more often his failure to act - have cost Oklahomans financially, emotionally and physically,” said House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman.
House Democrats delivered their response to the governor’s address in front of SSM Health Saint Anthony behind a podium bearing the hospital’s logo.
“As COVID-19 rages in Oklahoma, January was our worst month yet,” Virgin said. “No state wishes that they would have responded to this pandemic the way that Oklahoma has.”
The governor thanked frontline health care workers and renewed calls for students to return to the classroom.
“Can you imagine being a first grader and trying to learn to read on zoom?” Stitt said, continuing to criticize Tulsa Public Schools, who the governor said hasn’t held in-person instruction for 325 days.
He called the U.S. Supreme Court's McGirt decision “the most pressing issue for the future of our state” and called for increased funding to bring businesses to Oklahoma.
“The pandemic isn't over --- but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Stitt said. “As Will Rogers once said, ‘Don't let yesterday use up too much of today.’”