Governor Stitt provides Oklahoma update for COVID-19, 2021 budget

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Governor Kevin Stitt held a press conference today to provide an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 and discuss the 2021 budget.

Although some city leaders have expressed concerns about Phase 2, Gov. Kevin Stitt says that the state is ready.

Gov. Kevin Stitt says the state is on track to move forward with the second phase of reopening on May 15. 

In Phase 2, bars can operate with diminished standing room occupancy, funerals and weddings can resume with social distancing protocols and children’s nursery areas in places of worship can reopen.

Governor Kevin Stitt called for a 7% cut across the board several weeks ago after the state is projected to have a 1.4 billion-dollar deficit for fiscal year 2021.

Legislators said last week they can get it done with only a 3%-4% cut, if state savings and federal dollars are used.

“A year ago, nobody anticipated the COVID 19 situation we face today that has disrupted our state’s economy. It has disrupted the people of Oklahoma’s health and the Legislature feels like it’s duty to stabilize the fiscal picture of the state of Oklahoma to the best of its ability,” said Rep. Charles McCall (R-Atoka).

The Speaker of the House going on to say the budget is the responsibility of the legislature- a clear poke at Governor Stitt who had called for bigger cuts.

Lawmakers said the Governor could use 800 million federal CARES dollars to plug further holes. And after asking for help from the Chief Executive’s office, the head of Senate finances says they want to pass a law to make sure those federal dollars are spent wisely.

Today, Stitt decided to veto House Bill 2741 and 2742. Stitt says he is still working on the rest of the budget and accuses the legislature of cutting him out of the discussion. He says he is disappointed with the budget cuts and reallocation of funds, including the Health Department, school funding, and DHS.

Stitt also expressed frustration with the lack of confirmation for Gary Cox as the Oklahoma State Department of Health commissioner.

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