OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Senate has voted to override Governor Kevin Stitt’s veto of Senate Bill 1130.

Gov. Stitt vetoed SB 1130 on Monday, a bill that would keep the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) from using $600 million of unused pandemic funding for this fiscal year.

On Wednesday morning, the Senate chose to override that veto.

Stitt commented on how he was worried the Health Care Authority was facing consequences for “its fiscal conservatism and wise stewardship of taxpayer dollars.”

He also noted the funds should go to finance strategic health care initiatives, not to cover the agency’s budget.

The OHCA is getting ready to remove more than 300,000 Oklahomans who were added to Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic, but who no longer qualify for the program.

Senator Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, was the only person to speak regarding the bill. The Senate voted 45-2 to override the veto.

Sen. Thompson released a statement regarding the veto override of SB 1130.

The governor is wrong. As I outlined on the Senate floor today when we had to override another one of the governor’s vetoes, there are basic factual errors in his message where he is being misleading. We are not sweeping the funds, as he claimed, nor are we being imprudent. Furthermore, as mandated by the Oklahoma Constitution, it is the job of the Legislature to appropriate.

“It is because of the fiscally responsible work of this chamber that the state is in the position we are in financially that the governor likes to brag about so much. We are looking out for the care and well-being of Oklahomans.”

Senator Roger Thompson

Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma, responded to the veto override Wednesday afternoon.

“The Governor’s veto message about the bill was offensively inaccurate,” Pro Tem Treat said. “The measure passed overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate. The list of projects that the Oklahoma Health Care Authority wants to appropriate these monies to is worthy of legislative consideration.”

Senator Mary Boren, D-Norman, also responded to the Governor’s veto on Wednesday.

Giving the Health Care Authority, which does not have any legislative appointments, complete power over hundreds of millions of health care dollars blocks us from helping people in our districts.

“The chaos from trying to hold the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority accountable, showed us the need for balance of power in state agencies. The lack of legislative appointments on the OTA prevented elected officials in Norman from finding out about plans to build a turnpike. This lack of involvement resulted in millions of dollars being wasted on projects that were illegal and unwanted.

“Similarly, there are health care needs in our communities that warrant attention, and there are elected representatives ready and willing to elevate those needs into the budgeting process. Fortunately, our system of democracy allows the legislature to override the governor’s veto, which we did today. 

“Ideally, this exercise of the balance of power would encourage better collaboration between the legislative and executive branches. My district desperately needs our governor and legislature to work together to make the most out of our state, local, tribal, and federal health care dollars. By working together, we can better serve Oklahomans who are on waiting lists to see specialists, are unable to afford necessary prescription drugs, and are going without preventive care and screenings.” 

Senator Mary Boren