Speaking to area Republicans on Monday, Gov. Kevin Stitt plugged a second term for himself and the election of the down-ballot “ticket” running in step with him.
He said his favorite bill from this year’s legislative session was one barring transgender female athletes from women’s sports.
“I got interviewed by the Washington Post right after I signed it, and they were like, ‘Governor, you signed this controversial bill.’ I said, ‘First off, it’s not that controversial in Oklahoma,’” Stitt said hours before what was expected to be a charged Tulsa Public Schools board meeting on LGBTQ issues.
Speaking to the Republican Women’s Club South Tulsa United, Stitt lauded state education secretary and state superintendent candidate Ryan Walters, who exchanged fiery letters with the Tulsa school board over the matter, as well as Attorney General John O’Connor and term-limited state representative and labor commissioner candidate Sean Roberts.
People are also reading…
Roberts and Walters were present at Monday’s meeting; O’Connor was not.
Also present was state superintendent candidate John Cox, who is not endorsed by Stitt.
All are entered in the Jan. 28 Republican primary.
As governor, Stitt has forcefully advocated for more executive control of state government. He’s gotten the Legislature to dismantle several independent boards and commissions and give the governor direct appointment authority over those agency heads.
Stitt outlined his approach Monday in explaining his support for Walters.
“In most states, the governor gets to appoint the state superintendent,” he said. “I was elected governor and told, ‘Hey, go fix it.’ That’s why I’m so high on Secretary Walters.”
Separately, Stitt touted sending state education dollars “with” students whether they transfer to other public schools or private schools.
“I’m convinced … we won’t climb the ladder unless we inject more charter schools, more Christian schools,” he said.
Stitt compared opponents of such plans to segregation-era officials blocking Black children from all-white public schools.
The governor repeated his call for legislative action to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries, which he said is among the most regressive of taxes, and to lower the state income tax 0.25 percentage points.
Doing so, he said, would put Oklahoma’s top income tax rate among the 10 lowest in the country for states with an income tax.
Stitt reiterated his objections to the 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, which dramatically altered criminal jurisdictions in much of eastern Oklahoma.
Among other issues, Stitt is concerned that the ruling will be extended to other areas such as civil law and the state’s taxing authority.
He repeated his assertion that the decision creates unequal justice based on race, though most of the Oklahoma tribes say they consider it a matter of law.
Near the end, in response to a question, Stitt urged those present to press political candidates on the issue.
“This is a binary decision,” he said. “You are either for the state or six different (tribal) jurisdictions. … You should let them know you stand with Kevin Stitt.”