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Statement from Senate Democrats on override of governor’s budget vetoes

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate Democratic Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, released the following statement on behalf of the Senate Democratic Caucus after the Legislature voted to override several vetoes of budget bills by Governor Stitt:

“Senate Democrats voted against the override of Governor Stitt’s veto of SB 1922, the General Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2021. We disagree with the Governor’s stated justification for the veto, which is that he believes the budget should include more cuts. We remain concerned the budget as passed by the Legislature already includes too many cuts to core services, including education, health care, and public safety. We are unable to support implementing a budget that does not invest in these priorities, which are a critical foundation of Oklahoma’s economy.

“Most Senate Democrats also opposed votes to override the governor’s vetoes of HB 2741 and HB 2742, bills to divert funds from the Teacher’s Retirement System and Fire Fighter and Police pensions. While we agree funding is needed to prevent cuts to education, we do not believe taking funds intended for public pensions is the way to do it. Retired public employees, who dedicated their careers to serving Oklahomans, have gone over a decade without a cost of living increase (COLA). Instead of reverting back to old practices of diverting funds from the retirement systems, the Legislature should pass a COLA for these retirees this session.

“Senate Democrats did support an override of the Governor’s veto of HB 2743, which transfers $180 million from the ROADS Fund to public education. We do not believe this is a sustainable funding source for our public schools; however, we were able to support this override because the funding is backfilled by bonds the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is authorized to issue.”