OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday announced a legislative advisory group to work with him to distribute about $1.2 billion in federal funds provided to Oklahoma under the federal law.
“The legislators on this committee have the pulse of the communities they serve,” Stitt said. “I’ve said that Oklahoma is better when we work together, and I am excited to have their input on how we can use these federal funds to serve and enhance the lives of all 4 million Oklahomans.”
The action comes after legislative leaders were critical of Stitt for not including them in the discussions about how the federal dollars from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act will be used.
Stitt’s office said his administration has been working for several weeks on an advisory group framework and a tracking and reporting system for CARES Act reimbursements.
Stitt’s administration is also working on a portal for local governments to submit expenses for reimbursement under the CARES Act.
“Under the direction of President Trump, our priority is to ensure these dollars intended for COVID-19 response are deployed swiftly and on target,” Stitt said. “As communities and their citizens struggle across Oklahoma, it is imperative we as leaders work together.”
Legislators on the advisory committee include: House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka; Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa; Rep. Chelsey Branham, D-Oklahoma City; Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid; Rep. Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City; House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City; Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola; Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow; Rep. Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan; Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City; Rep. Tammy West, R-Oklahoma City; Rep. Harold Wright, R-Weatherford; Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City; Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow; Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville; Senate Majority Floor Leader Kim David, R-Porter; Sen. James Leewright, R-Bristow; Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada; Sen. John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton; Sen. Dave Rader, R-Tulsa; Sen. Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City; Sen. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore; and Sen. George Young, D-Oklahoma City.
Treat said the Legislature has a responsibility to oversee how taxpayer dollars are spent.
“For some time, the Legislature has been calling for more transparency in the use of the more than $1.2 billion in federal COVID relief dollars, so it’s encouraging to see the governor acknowledge that in this announcement,” Treat said. “This announcement, however, doesn’t preclude the Legislature from taking any steps it deems necessary to track the use of federal relief dollars in addition to this advisory group.”
CARES Act funds may only be used as reimbursement for costs incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30 related to the COVID-19 public health emergency, excluding expenses accounted for in existing budgets.
The funds may not be used to fill shortfalls in government revenue to cover expenditures that would otherwise not qualify under the statute.
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