Monday, February 04, 2019

House and Senate GOP optimistic, House Dems sour on Stitt's State of the State

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC)
Pro Tem Greg Treat comments on Governor Stitt’s state of the state speech

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, on Monday commented on Governor Kevin Stitt’s State of the State address.

“Governor Stitt gave a great speech where he laid out a clear vision to provide accountability, transparency, and results. Senate Republicans are focusing on these issues too through our agenda that includes budget transparency, government accountability, education investment and reform, and furthering criminal justice reform. There is a renewed sense of optimism and excitement at the Capitol and I think the governor’s speech today is reflective of that. I expect much more cooperation this year between the Senate, the House and the governor which is good for Oklahoma. Senate Republicans are excited about the 2019 session and look forward to working with Governor Stitt, and the House to put Oklahoma on the path to top 10,” Treat said.

House Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman)
Minority Leader Responds to Governor’s STOTS 

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, released the following statement today in response to the Gov. Kevin Stitt’s State of the State Address:

“We certainly appreciate Governor Stitt’s tone during his speech today. For the first time in many years, there is a sense of optimism in the Capitol, and the governor and his team are a big reason for that. However, at some point, for the optimism to matter, we need to start talking about real policies.

“We love that the governor brought up criminal justice reform, but the only new policy idea he clearly proposed or endorsed was an additional $1.5 million to Women in Recovery, which is great but hardly the answer to the problems facing our criminal justice system.

“On education, we will certainly support a $1,200 teacher pay raise, but we did not hear the governor's plan for increased classroom funding. We must focus on getting more funding into the classroom. Increasing teacher pay, without also providing funding to reduce class sizes and ensure that our schools have the resources available to educate, leaves out a crucial component of improving education for our students.

“Unfortunately, we received fewer details on how the governor expects to address Oklahoma’s healthcare crisis. It is hard for our caucus to understand how we can have a conversation about healthcare without first talking about the rural hospitals that have shut down or filed for bankruptcy. Furthermore, not accepting federal Medicaid funds based on what might happen in the future with another governing body is a ridiculous stance to take when Oklahomans are dying. If the governor is against expanding Medicaid, he should own it and offer a different vision for insuring the 200,000 Oklahomans that the expansion would cover.

“Finally, in his speech, Governor Stitt said ‘The government does not create wealth, only the private sector can. In my administration, every policy decision will promote a healthy economy.’

“This is simply untrue and is disrespectful to the men and women who serve in our state government. The truth is that growth comes through a partnership between private and public sectors. You can’t have a trucking company without roads, and as 2008 showed, you can’t have a mortgage company without government regulation.

“Moving forward, we want to work with this governor, and we think there is room to do that in areas of Criminal Justice Reform, Education, and hopefully healthcare.”

House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka)
House Speaker Charles McCall on Stitt's State of the State

“Governor Stitt outlined a conservative, pro-economic growth plan for Oklahoma that demands accountability and efficiency from our government while also addressing the needs of our core agencies. House Republicans share those goals, and we are ready to work with Gov. Stitt, our Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate leadership to accomplish those priorities.

“We support reforms that give the governor more control over the executive branch and that provide the Legislature more resources to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used as intended and agency programs are meeting the needs of our citizens. We also believe Oklahoma’s teachers should be the highest paid educators in the region, and real reforms that put more money into the classroom and improve student outcomes are necessary. We recognize our current healthcare system is not working for our low income and rural citizens, and we need an affordable Oklahoma solution that gives more people access to care and meets the unique needs of our population. We are proud of recent bipartisan efforts to reform our criminal justice system, and we intend to continue that momentum with policies that reduce the number of non-violent offenders in our prison system while ensuring that violent criminals meet justice.

“We believe those ideas are shared by the majority of Oklahomans, and we are ready to work together to move our state forward and make Oklahomans more prosperous.”


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