OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The battle over the state’s budget continues. Legislators and Gov. Kevin Stitt went back and forth Monday, just days after lawmakers introduced their plan to him.
“I want Oklahomans to know I’m vetoing House Bills 2741 and 2742 which would rob from our teacher’s retirement fund, our law enforcement retirement fund, and our firefighter’s retirement fund,” Stitt said.
Stitt said the bills would take tens of millions of dollars away from state pension funds to ease cuts to public schools.
“That simply is not true,” said Republican Sen. Roger Thompson. “We believe in education, we’ve worked hard, we’ve raised taxes, but we’ve worked hard to give teachers back to back raises.”
The governor adding that he’s disappointed in budget cuts to agencies like the state department of health and the department of human services.
“The core services to the people were not harmed,” Thompson said.
Senate officials saying they could override the governor’s vetoes. Also, claiming that if his veto’s stand more than $100 million will be cut to public education.
“We worked hard to fund the classrooms, we worked hard to fund the textbooks, and we want a hundred percent of that money going into education,” Thompson said.
Republican Rep. Kevin Wallace, saying conversations with Stitt and his representatives have seemed non-negotiable.
“When somebody makes demands and says you will do what we want or we’re ending negotiations, that doesn’t sound like a negotiation to me,” Wallace said.
However, the governor says that wasn’t the case.
“I can assure you I never walked away from the budget discussion, we were boxed out of the budget discussion,” Stitt said.
All of this as the legislature demands more transparency over how the state spends $770 million in federal coronavirus aid.
“It is true that it’s under the governors control and they will be accounted for that and there should be transparency in that,” Wallace said.
“We will have every penny and we will be giving daily updates to the legislature on how every single penny is spent,” Stitt said.
The governor has until Wednesday to look at and make decisions on the other parts of the budget.