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At First Tulsa Chamber State of the State, Stitt Promises Health, Criminal Justice Reforms in 2020

Matt Trotter

After running through the accomplishments during his first eight months in office, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt offered a general look at what's to come in 2020 in his first Tulsa Chamber State of the State.

Stitt said he's focused on increasing transparency and accountability in state government, praised lawmakers for enacting some criminal justice reforms, and said he was proud the state now has $1 billion in savings.

Stitt announced he will roll out a health care plan later this year aimed at improving outcomes in Oklahoma. Stitt said one of the main issues he sees is patients’ records not easily following them from one provider to another, creating opportunities for mistakes or for patients not to get care they need.

"My plan will include development and implementation of a statewide health information exchange. It will allow Oklahomans to have their health data under their own control, better protected and more portable," Stitt said.

A legislative working group has been tasked with developing a state solution to increasing access to health care and getting more Oklahomans insurance.

Stitt said criminal justice reform efforts will continue next legislative session but held off on specifics. Advocates have a list of changes that weren’t made this year, including bail reform and easing sentencing enhancements.

Stitt said the first thing that needs to happen is reclassification of Oklahoma’s criminal code, something a task force is currently working on.

"Once we can determine what we agree is a violent crime and a nonviolent crime, then we can really do sentencing reform and bail reform off of that," Stitt said.

A study found nonviolent offenders in Oklahoma serve sentences 70 to 80% longer than the national average.

Allowing local governments a mix of funding is also something Stitt will explore for the 2020 legislative session. Current state law lets cities and towns operate only on sales tax revenue.

Stitt said letting them kick in some public school funding could be part of that.

"The funding formula, my team is researching right now to tweak or to look at or to blow up and redo and think about it differently, because we have to — today, if a local community wants to do more, they can’t," Stitt said.

Stitt said the state needs a good public education system involving K–12, career tech and higher ed in order to attract new businesses.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.