Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks about tribal gaming during a press conference at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. SARAH PHIPPS/The Oklahoman

What a mess Gov. Kevin Stitt has created! His naiveté is disappointing but not surprising. It seems his bullying tactics have backfired in the court of public opinion.

Had the governor been more respectful, he might well have earned support for modest increases in state revenues from tribal gaming.

As it is, tribal leadership has little incentive to negotiate, and why should they? The compact has been enormously successful. It is a testament to tribal planning, business acumen and the even-handed distribution of the wealth created that now benefits the neediest in our state.

Do we really want to take money away from the tribes for re-purposing by elected officials often eager to hand out tax cuts to big corporations and the wealthy?

If Stitt wants to raise revenue, how about re-visiting the gross production taxes on for-profit energy companies rather than taking away from tribal investments in health care, education and job creation.

Because of the governor’s intransigence, it appears we are headed for a prolonged court battle where there are arguably no winners. So, while one segment of government is out trying to recruit new businesses, administration lawyers will be seeking to undermine tribal interests that pour $150 million annually into state coffers.

Perhaps it’s time for another initiative petition, to protect the tribes. Where do I sign?

Rather than worry about finding a dignified exit strategy, the governor should stand down before irreparable damage has been done. If you support the tribes, it is time to speak up.

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