By House Speaker
The first session of the 58th Legislature convened Monday with Gov. Kevin Stitt delivering his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate.
In his speech, the governor outlined his policy and budget priorities for the coming year and his continued hope to make Oklahoma a Top Ten state. As always, the Legislature and the executive branch will need to work together to accomplish our shared goals.
The governor will find strong support in the House for keeping the economy open, resuming in-person school, empowering parents and improving school finances. On those and all other issues, we appreciate and will reciprocate the governor’s pledge to work together and have a productive session for all Oklahomans.
While it is helpful to know the governor’s budget priorities, it’s important for Oklahomans to remember that state revenue is appropriated by the Legislature. The Legislature will deliver the governor a balanced state budget by the end of our legislative session. While initial estimates show $8.4 billion in revenue for the next fiscal year, officially certified revenue for appropriation will occur Feb. 16. We continue to be watchful of oil and gas prices, where some improvement has occurred lately.
In his speech, the governor acknowledged the effect COVID has had on many Oklahomans. More than 3,000 lives lost have been attributed to the virus. I certainly join the governor in his sentiment that we mourn with those who mourn.
The governor also acknowledged Oklahoma’s efforts to keep our businesses open so Oklahomans could keep their jobs and our economy strong. Keeping the economy going keeps people at work, off unemployment, and paying taxes necessary for government to function. The state is also working to keep schools open so children can receive in-person education in a safe environment. Amid all this, vaccines are being delivered so successfully throughout the state that we have been ranked a Top 10 state for vaccine distribution. The governor’s goal to get Oklahomans back to a state of normalcy again by summer is shared by many legislators, myself included.
It was an honor to welcome the governor to the House chamber to deliver his address to a joint session of the Legislature.
It also is an honor to have been elected to preside over this session in my third term as Speaker of the House. I took my oath of office as Speaker of the House on Organizational Day on Jan. 5. It was administered to me by Supreme Court Justice Dustin Rowe, a fellow resident of House District 22 from Tishomingo.
On Monday, another House District 22 resident joined me on the House floor. I had the high honor of welcoming as Veteran of the Week Master Sgt. Darrell W. Riley, from Reagan, Okla. Each week during our legislative session, we recognize a veteran, and it is the privilege of the speaker to get to select the first. Master Sgt. Riley has served our nation with distinction since 1993, serving on deployment in several operations and in many countries overseas and as an Air Force recruiter here in our state. It was a pleasure to get to recognize him and his service on the floor of the House, where he represented House District 22 with honor, as he has for his entire career.
By House Speaker