During his sixth State of the State address this week, Gov. Kevin Stitt called for tax cuts, asserted the state’s authority in ongoing disputes with tribal nations and said he wanted to promote marriage as a way to lift families out of poverty. The Frontier used government statistics and other public records and sources to fact-check select portions of Stitt’s speech.
Claim: The number of licensed marijuana businesses is down 76% from its peak after strengthened oversight by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.
Stitt said: “Through enforcement actions by Donny Anderson at OBN and Adria Berry and the team at OMMA, Oklahoma has gone from having a reputation as “the Wild West of Weed” to now being viewed as having some of the most effective enforcement and regulatory oversight in the nation. Now, licenses are down 76%.”
Fact check: False
Commercial marijuana licenses in the state peaked at 13,785 in December 2021, according to figures from the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. The figure includes dispensaries, grows, processing facilities, transportation and waste disposal companies. The number of licenses had declined to 8,025 by February of this year. That’s a significant 42% decrease, but not 76% as Stitt claimed.
Claim: This is the “most-fatherless generation” with nearly half of children born to single mothers.
Stitt said: “We are living in the most fatherless generation in our history. In 1970, just 10% of kids were born out of wedlock. Today, the statistic is staggering – 40% of kids are born to single mothers.”
Fact check: Mixed
Stitt is citing national figures here, and it’s true the number of children born to unmarried women has increased as marriage rates have declined and divorces have become more common. In Oklahoma in 2021, the number of babies born to unmarried women was higher than the national average at 44%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
But just because a child is born to an unmarried mother doesn’t mean they don’t have a father or second parent figure. Data from the Pew Research Center published in 2018 shows a rising percentage of kids are living with parents who cohabitate with a partner but aren’t married. Some children are also living with single fathers. What researchers count as living in a single-parent household varies. Some include households with grandparents or cohabitating partners. It’s also true that many single-parent households live in poverty. But instead of promoting marriage, some child advocacy groups say focusing on affordable housing, early childhood education and counseling for parents are key to improving outcomes for kids.
Claim: Jurisdictional disputes between Oklahoma state and local authorities and tribal governments after the 2020 U.S. Supreme Court McGirt decision are based on race.
Stitt said: “We can’t be a state that operates with two different sets of rules. Especially based on race,” referring to tribal sovereignty issues and fallout from the McGirt U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Fact check: False
It’s true that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 McGirt decision created some legal confusion and jurisdictional issues between state officials and tribal governments. The ruling held that most of eastern Oklahoma is an Indian reservation. However, the issues are due not to race, but to citizenship. The U.S. Supreme Court decided in the 1970s “that federal laws specifically benefiting Indian tribes are based upon a classification of tribes as political or governmental units – and are not racial classifications.”
Claim: Oklahoma has the second-lowest recidivism rates in the nation.
Stitt said: “With efforts like the Sarah Stitt Act and our drug court system, we are now No. 2 in lowest recidivism rates in the nation.”
Fact check: Mixed
The governor’s dashboard claims that Oklahoma had a recidivism rate of 16.96% in 2021, the second-lowest in the nation, but the source of the information is unclear. The Frontier asked the governor’s office where it got that data from, but didn’t get a response.
State lawmakers enacted The Sarah Stitt Act in 2021, which helped prisoners reintegrate into the workforce by providing state-issued identification cards upon release from prison.
Claim: Unlike income tax-free Florida, high-tax states like New York and California are facing budget crises.
Stitt said: “Florida doesn’t have an income tax. New York is at 10.9%. If more government spending was the answer, Florida would be falling apart. The opposite is true. It’s states like New York and California that are facing massive budget crises.”
Fact check: True
Florida imposes no income tax on residents and has seen multi-billion-dollar budget surpluses in recent years. Meanwhile, New York and California are facing multi-billion dollar budget deficits. The nonpartisan think tank the Tax Foundation ranks New York and California as having some of the highest tax burdens in the nation, with heavy reliance on income taxes on high earners.
The bulk of Florida’s state revenue comes from taxes on goods and services. Florida’s big tourism industry helps fuel sales tax collections, which made up 63.9% of state revenue in the 2022 fiscal year, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Comparatively, sales taxes made up 26.9% of Oklahoma’s state revenue in the 2022 fiscal year and personal income taxes made up 31.5%.
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
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