Communications & Public Affairs
Feb. 4, 2019

Contact: Wes Carter, Press Secretary
Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus
Phone: (405) 962-7674

Minority Leader Responds to Governor’s STOTS

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, released the following statement today in response to the Gov. Kevin Stitt’s State of the State Address:

“We certainly appreciate Governor Stitt’s tone during his speech today. For the first time in many years, there is a sense of optimism in the Capitol, and the governor and his team are a big reason for that. However, at some point, for the optimism to matter, we need to start talking about real policies.

“We love that the governor brought up criminal justice reform, but the only new policy idea he clearly proposed or endorsed was an additional $1.5 million to Women in Recovery, which is great but hardly the answer to the problems facing our criminal justice system.

“On education, we will certainly support a $1,200 teacher pay raise, but we did not hear the governor’s plan for increased classroom funding. We must focus on getting more funding into the classroom. Increasing teacher pay, without also providing funding to reduce class sizes and ensure that our schools have the resources available to educate, leaves out a crucial component of improving education for our students.

“Unfortunately, we received fewer details on how the governor expects to address Oklahoma’s healthcare crisis. It is hard for our caucus to understand how we can have a conversation about healthcare without first talking about the rural hospitals that have shut down or filed for bankruptcy. Furthermore, not accepting federal Medicaid funds based on what might happen in the future with another governing body is a ridiculous stance to take when Oklahomans are dying. If the governor is against expanding Medicaid, he should own it and offer a different vision for insuring the 200,000 Oklahomans that the expansion would cover.

“Finally, in his speech, Governor Stitt said ‘The government does not create wealth, only the private sector can. In my administration, every policy decision will promote a healthy economy.’

“This is simply untrue and is disrespectful to the men and women who serve in our state government. The truth is that growth comes through a partnership between private and public sectors. You can’t have a trucking company without roads, and as 2008 showed, you can’t have a mortgage company without government regulation.

“Moving forward, we want to work with this governor, and we think there is room to do that in areas of Criminal Justice Reform, Education, and hopefully healthcare.”