Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

“If it fails, it fails,” Stitt says in advance of Senate adjournment

Governor Kevin Stitt delivers his “defending your dollar” plan at a press conference at 9:30 am Tuesday, October 3rd. Less than six hours later, the senate would adjourn sine die without so much as considering a tax cut bill. “If it fails, it fails,” Stitt said. Katrinia Crumbacher Photo/Gaylord News

After convening for less than six hours, a second special session of the Oklahoma Legislature called to cut taxes adjourned sine die without seeing so much as a bill. 

Although calling the session, Gov. Kevin Stitt did not appear for the much anticipated Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, or on the floor of the Senate at all, even though he had been asked to appear by senate leadership. 

Stitt foreshadowed the possibility that little would happen during a press conference  before the legislature convened. 

“If it fails, it fails,” he said.

General aversion by many senators to the plan as a whole contributed to the lines of questioning by members of the body. Senate Floor Leader George McCourtney (R, Ada) alluded to this fact during his questioning of Treasurer Todd Russ at the committee hearing. 

“I appreciate you attending the press conference and then being able to press the fifth floor button on the elevator and be here,” Senate Floor Leader Greg McCortney (R, Ada) told State treasurer Todd Russ. 

House leaders were adamant that this session would be successful, and a proposal for tax cuts was necessary to make this session worthwhile. 

House Floor Leader Jon Echols said, “If we were to do anything this session, that means the citizens of the state of Oklahoma would have tax relief this year… if we choose to wait, that is one more year where we are holding on to the citizen’s money.”  

Echols and the house adjourned until 9:30 am Wednesday, Oct. 4 while the senate convened after the Appropriations hearing finished. 

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat laid the blame squarely at Stitt’s feat.

“I had not planned on doing the following motion, but with the Governor not answering the call and showing up in the special session appropriations and budget committee for a session he called, I move to.. Adjourn sine die,” he said. 

“We wanted to give the governor the benefit of the doubt that he would actually show up and defend his plan, very disappointed that he chose not to. It’s not like he was out of the country, it’s not like he was out of the state. He was downstairs,” Treat said. 

In preparation for this special session, Stitt proposed a “road to zero” that would mimic other states with a plan to start by making income tax a flat rate regardless of income, and would move to a 0% income tax over a period of time. While these tax cuts are being heavily discussed, Stitt said that the highest priority is budget transparency.

Treat further implied the failure of this session lies with Stitt by stating that if Stitt was not willing to discuss this proposal in an open meeting, then he should not be calling for budget transparency. 

Although testimony by Russ at the Appropriations hearing implied that the state would be in good financial health if Stitt’s proposed tax cuts were adopted, questions from members of the Senate showed concern for the ability of the state to adopt any new taxes should there be a need. 

Sparking Senate concern was the implications of state question 640. Under this 1992 amendment to the state constitution, lawmakers must achieve a 3/4ths majority on any proposed tax increase or it must pass as a state question, a high threshold for a proposal to reach. 

This is cause for concern for many senior legislators, who experienced in 2017 the “dark times” of the state reaching a deficit in spending as a result of low revenue. 

“Believe me, I have gone through some of the toughest times in the state with you all. I’ve chewed nails and bit lips and believe me we will go through some tough times,” Russ said.  

Russ, having previously served in the House of Representatives, had his voting record on tax increases and cuts mentioned. Multiple senators, including McCourtney alluded to Russ having voted for tax increases after approving tax cuts when the state was in financial trouble. Russ voted in favor of HB1010xx in 2018, the only tax increase bill to pass since state question 640 was adopted. 

Gaylord News is a reporting project is the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.  For more stories by Gaylord News go to

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