Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma gave his state of the state address, laying out his vision and proposals for the year 2022. He focused on several areas, such as education, police protection, economy, government transparency, and infrastructure.
Governor Stitt said that one area where Oklahoma could improve is by opening up the classrooms so that parents can get a better understanding of how their children are being taught. There was no specific proposal for this idea laid out. He also supported a bill that sits in the state legislature meant to provide more money for students as individuals, giving them more choices and opportunities throughout their school careers.
Stitt also voiced the necessity to support teachers to make sure that the students of Oklahoma have access to the best teaching possible. One way he wants to do this is by providing matching funds, which would allow the best teachers to earn a six-figure salary to stayin the classroom. He also called for the protection of teachers’ paychecks from teacher unions, saying that the unions should be more opt-in rather than opt-out.
Finally, he focused on career opportunities for Oklahoma students moving forward. Stitt proposed the addition of apprenticeship programs in high schools to allow students to learn skills that would help them get good-paying jobs without needing a college degree. He also proposed rewards for universities that expand student acceptance in fields where Oklahoma is feeling the most strain, such as in healthcare.
The Governor voiced the need to protect the officers and investigators of Oklahoma. To do this, he proposed the Oklahoma First Responders Wellness Division, which he says would provide help to officers immediately that require it, especially in the area of mental health. Similarly to his stance on teachers, Stitt stated that he wants to make payments for officers more competitive in hopes that it will help with the retention of those officers. Beyond that, Stitt voiced the importance of having a joint statewide training facility to ensure that every officer throughout the state can receive training of the highest quality. He also hopes that this facility will help expand the career opportunities for the state’s officers and first responders. Finally, he stated that it was time to create a consolidated unified command structure within a single department for the state’s law enforcement, as Oklahoma is one of only seven states that does not have this in place.
Governor Stitt said that he wants to keep Oklahoma’s economy booming, and one way of doing that is by adding jobs. He praised the electric vehicle company Canoo, which recently moved into the state and looks to bring in over 2000 new good-paying jobs. He also spoke of the Tinker Airforce base, which is expanding rapidly. He said that they expect to add 6,000 to 10,000 new jobs at that base over the next five years. Stitt also mentioned a plan to try and help with supply chain issues, talking about a new platform that would allow buyers to be more connected with sellers. Approximately 400 companies have already signed up for this program.
The Governor also expressed the need to lower taxes for the people of Oklahoma. He wants to eliminate the grocery tax, as it is hurting the wallets of families all across the state. Stitt also expressed his hope for ending the tax on military retirement benefits, saying that it is “a common-sense way to support those who defend our freedom.”
Finally, he proposed the Taxpayer Protection Plan, which would lower the income taxes for Oklahoma citizens while still ensuring that there is enough money to pay for all of the key state programs. This plan would decrease income taxes as the state’s annual revenue increases.
Stitt expressed the importance of transparency between government and citizens. One thing he promised is the creation and launch of HR programs for every state agency for the first time in the state’s history. He also expressed the need to fix the problems citizens have been experiencing in obtaining a driver’s license and want to open more lines of communication between the people and the state government to get that problem under control. Beyond that, he announced the Transparent Oklahoma Performance program, which will allow Oklahoma citizens to go online and track any progress made by the Oklahoma government. The website can be found at top.ok.gov.
Governor Stitt’s last major topic of discussion was infrastructure, or more specifically, transportation modernization. He spoke of the need to expand the highway system all across the state to help lessen congestion and to provide more reliable travel times. To help with this goal, he proposed a $13 billion investment in transportation over ten years. This would go towards expanding the number of lanes across certain highways, as well as adding more access points to highways throughout Oklahoma communities. He hopes that in doing so, it will allow the state’s economy to flourish, in urban and rural areas alike.
The position of Oklahoma governor is up for election in 2022, and Governor Stitt has announced his intentions to run for a second term. Oklahoma residents will have the chance to attend the primaries on June 28.