Oklahoma governor vetoes key parts of legislative budget

May 26, 2022 GMT
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt gestures at a news conference concerning the state budget Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt gestures at a news conference concerning the state budget Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt gestures at a news conference concerning the state budget Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt gestures at a news conference concerning the state budget Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt gestures at a news conference concerning the state budget Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said Thursday he vetoed several key pieces of a legislative budget deal, setting up a showdown with fellow Republicans in the Legislature who are expected to try and override him.

Stitt told reporters at a press conference that he and his staff were left out of budget negotiations with lawmakers and that he disagreed with some of its big-ticket items. He said he planned to call lawmakers back for a special session next month to address his priorities, which include eliminating the state sales tax on groceries and reducing the state’s top individual income tax rate.

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“This budget is not, was not an agreement. Agreement requires negotiation, requires consensus. Negotiations did not happen in this year’s budget,” Stitt said. “Why are only a select few in charge, while the rest of us are expected to nod our heads and not even ask questions.”

Stitt said he vetoed the Legislature’s plan to offer one-time cash rebates to taxpayers of $75 for individuals and $150 for families, which was expected to cost the state $181 million. Stitt described the rebate plan as a political gimmick during an election year and a “slap in the face to hardworking Oklahomans.”

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He also vetoed a bill that reduced the state sales tax on motor vehicle purchases, which was estimated to cost the state about $188 million annually, and another that directed $7.7 million to increase reimbursement rates for two private prisons in the state.

In response to the governor’s press conference, House Speaker Charles McCall issued a terse response: “The House will respond to the governor’s many inaccurate and misleading statements in due course.”

The Legislature wrapped up its budget deal and sent it to the governor last week in anticipation that he might veto some or all of it. Because Friday is the last day of the session, lawmakers have time to come back and override his vetoes with a two-third’s vote in the House and Senate.

A similar situation played out in 2020 when the governor vetoed the legislative budget deal, and Republicans quickly voted to override him.

The Legislature has also called itself into a concurrent special session this year to pass measures that give the Legislature more authority over dispersing about $1.8 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.