Enacting most of the ARPA bills, Governor Kevin Stitt nixes three
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Still signed a wave of measures enacted during last week’s special session deploying to various agencies resources received under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
For each of the vetoes, the chief executive explained his action was “Pursuant to the authority vested in me by Section 12 of Article VI of the Oklahoma Constitution to approve or disapprove any appropriation bills, or any item therein contained.”
In his message to the legislators concerning a bill intended to provide money to the Oklahoma Arts Council bill, Stitt said, “I have vetoed Enrolled Senate Bill 18xx.”
The measure, he said, “would appropriate to the Oklahoma Arts Council $10,000,000.00.”
“I support the Oklahoma Arts Council, including its management and care of the State Art Collection, but the long-term, strategic value of this appropriation has not been clearly established.
“Furthermore, nearly every industry across the state was adversely impacted by COVID-19, especially service industries like restaurants and small, local businesses These one-time funds present a unique opportunity to have a generational impact and leave a legacy for generations. It is preferable that these funds be used for infrastructure and water [projects] and long-term strategic investments that will change the trajectory of our state.
“For this reason, I have vetoed Enrolled Senate Bill l8xx.”
Concerning House Bill 1015xx, Governor Still noted the measure “would appropriate to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEM) $6,000,000.00.” That money would be used to “construct nine regionally located emergency operations centers” around the state.
The governor wrote that “OEM does a great job coordinating with local communities when emergencies-and natural disasters occur. While I continue to support the great work OEM does in responding to natural disasters, the strategic, long-term value of this appropriation has not been clearly established. For this reason, I have vetoed Enrolled House Bill 1015xx.”
The third measure vetoed was House Bill 1009xx.
Still noted that “House Bill 1009xx would appropriate to the Oklahoma Education Television Authority (OETA) $8,185,000.00 or so much thereof as may be necessary to make infrastructure upgrades to maintain and enhance datacasting and emergency alerting communications statewide.
“Spending over $8 million of taxpayer dollars on upgrades without a clear, long-term, strategic plan for these funds is not responsible spending.”
Stitt repeated a theme raised before, during and after the session, and in one of his other vetoes messages: “[A]s I have implored the Legislature from the beginning, these one-time funds present a unique opportunity to have a generational impact and leave a legacy for generations. It is preferable that these funds be used for infrastructure and water projects and long-term strategic investments that will change the trajectory of our state. For these reasons, I have vetoed Emolled House Bill l009xx.”
An overview of the bills Stitt signed this week, giving them the force of law, can be read here: