Last week Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt showed Oklahomans what it is like to a have third-grader running the state.
In a snit, Stitt arbitrarily vetoed 20 bills that originated in the atate Senate in retaliation for the senators’ refusal to join him in lock-step obedience instead of working on behalf of the constituents who elected them.
According to The Oklahoman’s Dale Denwalt: “Stitt has pressured lawmakers this session to adopt any combination of tax cuts on groceries, personal income and corporate income. He also has urged senators to compromise on proposals to raise teacher pay and give parents a tax credit if they send their kids to private school.”
Make no mistake, the GOP-controlled Senate has its own version of rewarding-the-rich plans at the expense of everyone else. But they don’t jibe with Stitt’s plans. A would-be dictator demands devotion.
In fact, Stitt declared his grievance and intent in his veto message:
“Therefore, until the people of Oklahoma have a tax cut, until every teacher in the state gets the pay raise they deserve, until parents get a tax credit to send their child to the school of their choice, I am vetoing this unrelated policy and will continue to veto any and all legislation authored by Senators who have not stood with the people of Oklahoma and supported this plan.”
Not any plan will do. It must be the governor’s.
Among the 20 bills – “unrelated” to his plan as Stitt admits – that he vetoed, according to Denwalt, is one which would add “child abuse as a reason to file for a protective order,” since threatened children are political pawns to our governor.
Two others would make Narcan readily available in the Department of Corrections and at hospitals and even for individuals to try to curtail opioid epidemic deaths. Well, this is the governor who sacrificed thousands of lives to the COVID-19 pandemic to prove his loyalty to the guy who tried to overthrow the republic.
Reinforcing this indifference to public health, Stitt vetoed one bill designed to limit “youth access to tobacco” and another that would make it “easier for health care providers to provide hospice palliative drugs to patients.” No, the Guv does not feel your pain. He doesn’t even care about it.
Three bills are perfunctory extensions of the boards of state agencies. But those bills originated in the Senate. If the Senate won’t play by pouting Lil’ Kevin’s rules, he’ll just take his ball and go home.
And speaking of footballs, basketballs, baseballs and softballs, one vetoed Senate bill was designed to bring “Oklahoma in line with other states in regards to name, image and likeness regulations for collegiate athletes. Supporters have said the bill would make Oklahoma’s recruiting classes more competitive,” Denwalt wrote.
Yep, he’s messing with college football, the state’s public religion, because state senators have minds of their own, have chosen to remind the governor that Oklahoma has three branches of government and not a top-down tyranny.
How else explain House Speaker Charles McCall’s assessment [via The Oklahoman]: “[Stitt’s] making it very clear and he has conveyed it to me personally, that if we get his compromise plan to his desk, he is going to be completely fine with any overrides.”
By the end of the week, the Senate had retaliated by not approving two of Stitt’s board appointments. But considering that he’s the guy who put a college dropout on a college board, such rejections might not be that bad.
Stitt’s “my way or the highway” approach to government is the low road to one-man rule.