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Stitt champions government changes in second State of the State address

In his second State of the State address, Gov. Kevin Stitt pledged to tackle government changes, saying bureaucracy is the greatest challenge facing the state.

“I have found government too big and too broken,” Stitt told the crowd in Oklahoma's House.

His goals include merging various government agencies and slashing regulations, along with his approach to Medicaid expansion and continuing his legal battle over tribal gaming.

House Democrats said the most pressing issues are be health care and education.

“I think if you polled all 3 million Oklahomans, none of them would say bureaucracy,” said House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman.

“I think the governor needs to get out of Oklahoma City more … and see what is actually going on in our communities across the state.”

But Senate Republicans praised the governor's plans to modernize state government to better serve state residents.

"We are excited about his enthusiasm," Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat said. "I, particularly, was excited about cutting red tape and trying to find regulations to eliminate."

Below are the top priorities Stitt outlined during his 40-minute speech:

State agency changes

Stitt wants to consolidate a handful of state agencies and cut agency regulations.

He specifically mentioned the Department of Corrections absorbing the Pardon and Parole Board and merging the Office of Emergency Management with the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security.

Stitt also wants to combine some functions of the Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

“Some will cry that consolidation is disruptive,” Stitt said. “Let me be clear — it will be for political insiders and those that find comfort in big bureaucracy. But it is what we need to do.”

Following in the footsteps of President Donald Trump, Stitt also announced he will file an executive order directing state agencies to cut two regulations for every new regulation.

Stitt aims to cut state regulations by 25% by the end of his first term.

Health care

Stitt emphasized his recently announced plan to expand Medicaid using a new Trump administration block grant option.

Dubbed SoonerCare 2.0, Stitt's plan would require work requirements and moderate premiums to be paid by users. The governor said 180,000 Oklahomans would gain coverage under the expansion. He encouraged legislators to take specific steps to fund the roughly $150 million of the state's share of the expansion.

As part of his plan, Stitt envisions consolidating the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the state Department of Health and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd said legislators need to look carefully before consolidating state agencies, especially ones that deal with complicated health care issues.

"It is an incredibly complex issue, and just because an agency has 'medical' or 'health care' in the title of the agency doesn't mean that they all serve the same purpose," she said.

Stitt also said within the next few months, state health agencies will take steps to create a statewide Health Information Exchange to protect Oklahomans' health records while ensuring these records are portable and accessible at all times.

Education

Stitt’s main goal for education is to increase the tax credit cap for the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship, which he hopes will encourage more individuals and businesses to contribute to nonprofits providing scholarships. He wants to raise the cap from $5 million to $30 million.

He urged the Legislature to pass a bill allowing the state Board of Education to issue a teaching certificate to anyone who holds a valid teaching certificate from another state so long as they pass a background check.

He also plans to bring in a national nonprofit called Jobs for America’s Graduates, which focuses on addressing dropout rates.

Stitt supports allowing more local dollars into the education funding formula and legislation making it easier for the State Board of Education to issue teaching certificates.

Gaming compacts

With some tribal leaders in the House chamber to watch the speech, the governor called for the Legislature to approve possibly using some state reserves to fund education while the state awaits a court decision on tribal gaming revenue.

Roughly $130 million annually in gaming revenue goes to fund education.

But Stitt and Oklahoma’s Native American tribes are in the midst of a clash over how much gaming revenue should go to the state. Until a federal court can rule in the dispute, Stitt has asked that all 2020 gaming revenue, including the portion that would go to the state, be held in a trust the neither side can touch.

Stitt envisions the state reserve funds filling in, if necessary, while the gaming revenue is at question.

During his speech, Stitt also doubled down on his stance that the state’s tribal gaming compacts did not automatically renew this year. The tribes believe the compacts automatically renewed on Jan. 1.

“Unfortunately, we have an expired model gaming compact, a compact in which notable tribes have previously called 'dated' and 'unsuitable' for current and future business,” he said.

Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Chairman Matthew Morgan said it's unfortunate to see the governor tie the state budget in knots by refusing to acknowledge the previously agreed upon compact terms.

Rainy Day Fund

Stitt called on legislators to pass a bill by Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Broken Arrow, to double the capacity of the state’s Rainy Day Fund to hold $2 billion. Voters would have to approve the measure to raise the cap from 15% of certified collections to 30%.

The fund sits at just over $1 billion after the governor directed last year that an additional $200,000 would go into state reserve accounts.

Related Photos
<strong>Legislators from both houses gather in the House Chambers on Monday as Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Legislators from both houses gather in the House Chambers on Monday as Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-da44fb516734c0fc2253e9546863d6c3.jpg" alt="Photo - Legislators from both houses gather in the House Chambers on Monday as Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Legislators from both houses gather in the House Chambers on Monday as Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Legislators from both houses gather in the House Chambers on Monday as Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c558cfb62ea2ff037b5f48a317b39e1a.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt gives a thumbs up to the gallery Monday. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Gov. Kevin Stitt gives a thumbs up to the gallery Monday. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Gov. Kevin Stitt gives a thumbs up to the gallery Monday. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-208738b92c55cb79e01ff606d881951a.jpg" alt="Photo - Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd delivers a reaction to the State of the State Address. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd delivers a reaction to the State of the State Address. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd delivers a reaction to the State of the State Address. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b2d2d1cc44626de05b98e13ab194e035.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt talks to Legislators as he leaves the House Chambers after his speech. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Gov. Kevin Stitt talks to Legislators as he leaves the House Chambers after his speech. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Gov. Kevin Stitt talks to Legislators as he leaves the House Chambers after his speech. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-97ab43fdb393c04f8b14c5da3049d62f.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-31573e5294e9a44c78c48c4860058c53.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-1b1ae250d3f4176fab7111f3d2ae8ab4.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-cd6bfa8737e8ddbc06e94149b8df6927.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a1252f38a8bed0c574ec38302ae6a372.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-adde5e3eea2d06df011ce95b5ff345dc.jpg" alt="Photo - President Pro Temper Greg Treat, right, greets Gov. Kevin Stitt before he delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" President Pro Temper Greg Treat, right, greets Gov. Kevin Stitt before he delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> President Pro Temper Greg Treat, right, greets Gov. Kevin Stitt before he delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-9f6098c2850459b3a287698bb510c79a.jpg" alt="Photo - Legislators gather in the House of Representatives as Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Legislators gather in the House of Representatives as Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Legislators gather in the House of Representatives as Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-dfd3a9d32e696ee876bbe11512adc49f.jpg" alt="Photo - Spectators gather in the gallery of the House of Representatives as Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Spectators gather in the gallery of the House of Representatives as Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Spectators gather in the gallery of the House of Representatives as Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0f3ff4f34cb535520ec2142b9d416bd2.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt waves to the gallery as he begins his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Gov. Kevin Stitt waves to the gallery as he begins his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Gov. Kevin Stitt waves to the gallery as he begins his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-82c1f459bcd978b2833c0978fc4b795d.jpg" alt="Photo - Sen. Frank Simpson greets Gov. Kevin Stitt as he arrives to deliver his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Sen. Frank Simpson greets Gov. Kevin Stitt as he arrives to deliver his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Sen. Frank Simpson greets Gov. Kevin Stitt as he arrives to deliver his State of the State Address in the House Chambers of the Oklahoma House of Representative in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-879ca183715597162a933531516fd94b.jpg" alt="Photo - State Rep. Jason Lowe speaks during a press conference after filing a new petition to repeal permitless carry at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title="State Rep. Jason Lowe speaks during a press conference after filing a new petition to repeal permitless carry at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>State Rep. Jason Lowe speaks during a press conference after filing a new petition to repeal permitless carry at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-59416bff86bc8cf21f5fdecbc4e8c0b2.jpg" alt="Photo - State Rep. Jason Lowe speaks during a press conference after filing a new petition to repeal permitless carry at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title="State Rep. Jason Lowe speaks during a press conference after filing a new petition to repeal permitless carry at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>State Rep. Jason Lowe speaks during a press conference after filing a new petition to repeal permitless carry at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
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