Governor Kevin Still delivered his "State of the State" speech Monday, at the start of a new session of the Oklahoma State Legislature. He highlighted last year's new investments in education, big steps in judicial reform and a conservative budget that had agencies changing how they work without spending more money.
The speech was well-received by most in the Republican-controlled legislature, but one point has already drawn a lot of criticism from educators - a proposed expansion of tax credits for donors to a program that largely benefits private schools. The leaders of the teacher walkout have responded strongly and negatively to the governor's proposal.
State Representative Stan May praised the speech, with the reminder that everything at this point is just a proposal. "A few of the things he's trying to do are going to get tweaked between the House and the Senate and we'll see where we go from there."
The governor warned lawmakers that the downturn in oil and gas meant they'll have a little less to spend this year. Conservative budgeting was the theme of the Governor's speech as he called for more savings, and cuts in regulations and the bureaucracy that keeps it going.
Governor Stitt said that's because Oklahoma has far more regulations than surrounding states - and he wants to change that. He also called for another $100 million dollars for the state savings account.
Democrats said they're concerned about an expansion of vouchers for private schools and plans to change protections for the state workforce that shields them from political influence.
"Our private schools are not in crisis, it's our public schools," said Representative John Waldron. "Private schools don't serve every Oklahoman and our public schools do, so that's where the crisis in and where the leadership needs to focus."
The Governors plans call for consolidating several state agencies to streamline the workforce, and transitioning state workers into at-will employees while rewarding high performers with better pay.
It was the second State of the State address from Stitt, who last year had several legislative successes with Republicans in control of the House and Senate.
","published":"2020-02-04T00:33:41.000Z","updated":"2020-02-04T02:27:32.000Z","summary":"Governor Kevin Stitt outlined his budget and policy plans for this year's legislature, as lawmakers returned to the Capitol and the Governor delivered his State of the State address.