The 2023 Oklahoma legislative session kicked off Monday, Feb. 6 with Gov. Kevin Stitt’s State of the State address to the 59th Oklahoma Legislature at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City.
“My fellow Oklahomans, the state of our state is the strongest it has ever been,” Stitt said.
In the official start to his second term, Gov. Stitt touched on Oklahoma’s accomplishments and his legislative plan for the coming year in his address, including a number of topics important to Oklahoma Farm Bureau members.
Topping the list was Gov. Stitt’s emphasis on improving rural infrastructure – a top priority for Farm Bureau members – including the availability of high-speed broadband internet.
“When I came into office, Oklahoma was ranked in the bottom ten for broadband access,” Stitt said. “Today, we’ve jumped 23 spots to 26th in the nation for fastest coverage.”
Stitt encouraged the work of the Oklahoma Broadband Office created by the legislature last year, which has a goal of serving 95% of Oklahoma with high-speed broadband internet by 2028.
He also expressed the importance of improving access to healthcare for rural Oklahomans.
“As a result, another $700 million is on the way to improve rural hospitals and expand primary care across Oklahoma,” Stitt said.
His plans for rural infrastructure improvement also include adding shoulders to all rural highways in the state for added safety.
“Protecting Oklahomans means that we continue to prioritize highway safety, especially for our rural highways,” he said. “So far, we have secured millions in federal funding to add shoulders to rural highways.”
In addition to his plans to improve the state’s infrastructure, Stitt also commended the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority and state law enforcement’s crackdown on illegal marijuana operations in 2022.
“We have deactivated over 800 illegal marijuana farms, completed 165 arrests and seized over 600,000 pounds of illegal marijuana,” he said.
During the address, Stitt expressed his desire to make Oklahoma attractive to more businesses – something that could greatly improve the vibrancy of the state, especially in rural areas.
“Since 2019, over 23,000 new jobs have been created, and today, Oklahoma now has the third fastest-growing economy in the nation,” he said. “Companies from all over the country – and the world – are moving to our state to build and expand.”
Despite the growing business economy, Stitt acknowledged the inflationary pressures Oklahomans feel at the grocery store.
“Before the pandemic, a gallon of milk cost $2.90,” he said. “Today, it’s $4.21. A dozen eggs were about $1.50, and today they are $5.50.”
To close out his address, Stitt renewed his commitment to making Oklahoma the best it can be for its citizens.
“The truth is Oklahoma feeds the world, fuels the world and protects freedoms around the world,” he said. “The truth is everything is possible right here from Oklahoma. The future doesn’t belong to the timid, or those who protect the status quo. The future belongs to the brave, the pioneers, the go-getters, the can-doers. The future belongs to Oklahoma.”