OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – One of Governor Kevin Stitt’s vetoes announced Thursday will hold back funds from improving the infrastructure for a statewide emergency network.
It is House Bill 1009xx.
Logan Phillips, Republican lawmaker from Mounds, was the committee chairman that helped approve the project at the Capitol.
He said it was a bipartisan effort. “80,90% of Reps [representatives] voted for these bills, for the governor to veto them,” said Phillips.
The $8.1 million in the bill would go towards replacing transmitters for the WARN network.
WARN stands for warning, alert, response network. It is run by the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, or OETA.
It helps transmit emergency signals to Oklahomans in the event of a weather emergency or Amber alert. Rural Oklahomans are the ones that benefit the most, said the representative from Mounds.
“That is one of the only ways a large percentage of our rural communities actually can get warnings about incoming tornadoes,” said Phillips.
The lawmaker said that not improving the signal towers could put his constituents in jeopardy.
KFOR reached out to Governor Kevin Stitt for an in-person interview but did not hear back. Instead, press releases were sent out with statements about Thursday’s vetoes.
“Spending over $8million of taxpayer dollars on upgrades without a clear, long-term, strategic plan for these funds is not responsible spending,”Governor Kevin Stitt
OETA has 18 total towers across the entire state. Three of the transmitters have been replaced, with the $8million expected to replace the remaining 15. The current towers are around 30 years old, according to OETA.
Joy Hofmeister, by virtue of her position as State Superintendent, is on the board of OETA. She served as the Board Chairman until last year.
She pushed back on the Governor’s statement by saying that investing in new transmitters last decades.
“It’s also a long-term investment, at least 20 years that we would have had strong signals and service to the people of Oklahoma,” said Hofmeister.
Governor Stitt added in his statement that money should be used to make “investments that will change the trajectory of our state.”
Along with three vetoes, he passed a slew of bills that would provide over $1billion in funding to Oklahoma.
Lawmakers now wait for House and Senate leadership to decide on if they will come back to the Capitol to override the Governor’s vetoes. October 14 is when the 2nd Special Session will officially adjourn.