Democratic Legislative leaders critical of Republican Governor Kevin Stitt’s state of the state address

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report 

Senate Democratic Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, and her state House counterpart, Representative Emily Virgin, were both critical of the State of the State address delivered Monday, February 1, by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican . 

In a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK and other news organization, Senator Floyd said: 
“[Monday’s] State of the State Address makes clear what the Senate Democrats have long been advocating: fighting the COVID-19 remains our state’s most urgent priority. This is critical to the health and safety of all Oklahomans and to jumpstart our state’s economy.

“The governor and the Legislature must ensure our state agencies have all necessary resources to defeat the pandemic. We need to continue funding personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, and vaccine distribution. Oklahomans are doing their part, but there is still much work to be done to get our positive test rate under control and to reduce the number of hospitalizations.

“Getting the pandemic under control is critical to efforts to safely reopen our public schools. We all agree students learn best in the classroom, but we need to make sure our school districts have the funding necessary to protect students, teachers, support staff, and their families.

“We continue to be concerned with the process through which the governor is implementing a managed care system for the state’s Medicaid program. Converting Medicaid delivery to managed care is a $2.2 billion endeavor, yet there has been very little input from the Legislature and from the medical community. It is especially troubling this process, which is a major change to our state’s health care system, is being rushed through as our state’s hospitals and medical providers are on the front lines treating Oklahomans with COVID-19.

“As we predicted when state agency management was consolidated under control of the governor, this structure leads to less collaboration with the Legislature, which is a co-equal branch of government, and less input from subject matter experts when major policy decisions are made. The managed care implementation is just one of several examples of this.

“Oklahoma faces many challenges which must be addressed this session. Senate Democrats look forward to working with our colleagues in the majority and the governor on behalf of the people of Oklahoma.”

As for House Minority Leader Virgin, D-Norman, her statement found little to praise in the chief executive’s speech. In her comments sent to news organizations, Rep. Virgin said:
“We heard a rosy picture painted by the Governor today, but the reality is that his actions, or more often, his failure to act, have cost Oklahomans financially, emotionally, and physically.

“At times during the past year, instead of focusing on our state’s pandemic response and at times our surging COVID case numbers and hospitalizations, Gov. Stitt has been distracted by national politics and political patronage.

“[Monday’s] State of the State speech was no different. It was far from the call for unity Oklahomans desire. I’ve listened in the House Chamber to 11 different State of the State Addresses.” She declared the “speech was by far the most divisive. Unfortunately, the governor … chose to bring DC politics to Oklahoma, delivering more of a campaign speech than the united message that we need as a state and as a nation.
“The version of the last year that the governor sold to Oklahomans … was nothing more than revisionist history.

“Let me be clear, as COVID-19 rages in Oklahoma – January was our worst month, yet – no state wishes they would have responded to this pandemic as Oklahoma has. From his own lack of personal responsibility to the lack of public health policies enacted, Governor’s Stitt’s response to this pandemic has been an example of failed leadership.”