Gov. Kevin Stitt called for sweeping tax cuts and expanding students’ access to private schools through school vouchers during his fifth State of the State address this week. The Frontier fact-checked some of Stitt’s remarks using government data and other sources. 

On the economy, Stitt said: “Since 2019, over 23,000 new jobs have been created and today, Oklahoma now has the third fastest-growing economy in the nation.”
Fact check: True but misleading

Oklahoma’s gross domestic product grew at a rate of 5.5% between the second and third quarter of 2022, according to a January report from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. The Sooner State had the third-fastest rate of economic growth behind Alaska at 8.8% and Texas at 8.5%.

But that report, based on figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, only measures a moment in time. While the state’s increase between the second and third quarter of 2022 was the third-highest in the nation, the state’s gross domestic product declined by 1.6 percent from the first quarter to the second quarter of the year, ranking Oklahoma at 30th in the country in growth. Oklahoma was 43rd in the nation for gross domestic product growth from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022.

The Bureau of Labor statistics show the state has added roughly 46,000 jobs since January 2019, and, according to a document released by Stitt’s administration, economic development efforts by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce have created 22,904 jobs since January. 2019.
-Dylan Goforth

On proposed tax cuts, Stitt said: “I am proposing to eliminate Oklahoma’s state grocery tax and reduce our personal income tax rate to 3.99%.These cuts will save each family in Oklahoma hundreds of dollars each year.”
Fact check: True but misleading 

It’s true that cutting income tax rates and eliminating a state tax on groceries would save Oklahomans some money, but most people would see only a modest benefit from cutting the 4.5% state tax on groceries. And even across-the-board income tax cuts disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Oklahomans, according to an analysis from the left-leaning Oklahoma Policy Institute and Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.  The average two or three person household spent $416 on groceries a month in the 2021 fiscal year, according to data from the Oklahoma Tax Commission, paying an estimated $224 a year in state sales tax.

Stitt has also proposed a 0.76% across-the-board income tax cut, slashing the state’s top tax bracket to 3.99%. His executive budget proposal estimates the personal income tax cut would cost the state $260.9 million, but that’s only for the first half year. The full annual cost of the cut would likely be much higher. Oklahoma Tax Commission estimates for a smaller across-the-board tax cut of 0.25% that failed last year in the Legislature put the annual cost to the state at $226.5 million for the first full fiscal year. 
-Brianna Bailey

On school choice, Stitt said: “Other states like Iowa and Virginia and Florida and New Hampshire have already figured it out. Providing more options for students leads to better outcomes.”
Fact check: Mixed

Many states have expanded various school choice initiatives in recent years including charter schools and voucher programs. But only one of the states Stitt mentioned — New Hampshire — have major school voucher programs like the one Stitt supports already signed into law.

New Hampshire’s school voucher program is less than two years old, and eligibility is based on family income. No independent studies on student outcomes are yet available. The program has proved popular with parents, but has also run significantly over budget. And yet, the state’s Legislature is already eying an expansion.

State lawmakers in Virginia and Iowa are considering but have yet to approve proposed major school voucher expansions.

Florida has had multiple school voucher programs for years, and the state’s Legislature is now looking to vastly expand options for students with a proposed universal school choice bill

Studies on the impact of school vouchers on student performance have found small, but positive or negligible effects on student outcomes. 
-Clifton Adcock

Stitt said: “USA Rare Earth, the nation’s first critical mineral-to-magnet manufacturing facility, is right here in Oklahoma.”
Fact check: True but misleading 

It’s true that the company USA Rare Earth announced plans in June 2022 to open a manufacturing plant in Stillwater to convert rare earth minerals into magnets and other materials, the first facility of its kind in the United States. But the plant is still in the process of installing machinery and isn’t open yet. The facility is expected to begin some production this summer and become fully operational in 2024, said Dawn Jones, a spokeswoman for the city of Stillwater, which has approved a $7-million incentive deal with USA Rare Earth. 

“City management recently toured the facility and are impressed with progress and excited for the future,” Jones said in an email.

USA Rare Earth estimates the facility will eventually create more than 100 jobs in Stillwater. The company has one job opening in Stillwater posted on its website for an environmental and health safety specialist.
-Brianna Bailey

On criminal justice reform, Stitt said: “It’s why we also lead the nation in the lowest recidivism rate.”
Fact check: Mixed

Stitt’s office said it used data from the governor’s dashboard website to back up the claim that Oklahoma has the lowest recidivism rate in the country. 

The dashboard shows Oklahoma’s recidivism rate at 16.5% as of October 2022 and cites the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for its data. The dashboard also pulls data from individual states and rankings from World Population Review, a website that gathers demographic data, to claim that Oklahoma has the lowest recidivism rate in the nation. 

But Oklahoma’s recidivism rate changes depending on the source and how old the data is. 

An Oklahoma DOC spokesman said the total recidivism rate for fiscal year 2022 was higher at 17.6% but agreed Oklahoma still has the lowest rate in the country out of states that measure it in similar ways. 

The conservative justice reform group The Nolan Center for Justice said the rate was 19% in an April 2022 report. A local media report in July 2022 said the rate was closer to 20%. 

Organizations like the Pew Center On the States, the Oklahoma Policy Institute and the Virginia Department of Corrections have cited Oklahoma as having one of the lowest recidivism rates in the country, but the data is several years old. 

Research has suggested states that incarcerate more low-level offenders tend to have lower recidivism rates, since those individuals are less likely to reoffend and be reincarcerated. 
-Kayla Branch

Rating system: 
True: A claim that is backed up by factual evidence
Mostly true: A claim that is mostly true but also contains some inaccurate details 
Mixed: A claim that contains a combination of accurate and inaccurate or unproven information 
True but misleading: A claim that is factually true but omits critical details or context 
Mostly false: A claim that is mostly false but also contains some accurate details 
False: A claim that has no basis in fact