OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma House Democrats released the following statement today after Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Oklahoma is ending the state’s participation in federal pandemic unemployment assistance.
House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman:
“Last week, Republicans announced a reduction in the corporate tax rate in their budget proposal. Today, Republicans announced a reduction in benefits for Oklahoma’s workforce. These aren’t political narratives but reality.
“This reality has made it clear that the number one priority of the GOP is to remove money and benefits from working Oklahomans and increase the profitability of corporations and their out-of-state shareholders.
“I do want to extend thanks to the Biden Administration for the American Rescue Plan, which will allow Oklahoma to provide a $1200 bonus to those who can return to the workforce in the coming months. Any help to our workforce is welcomed.”
Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-OKC:
“Rejecting federal unemployment benefits before they expire this September is shortsighted and punitive. There is no proof that these benefits are contributing to a worker shortage. Even while many schools haven’t fully reopened and childcare facilities have long waiting lists, Oklahoma’s unemployment rates are relatively low — right around where they were in 2017 and a little higher than they were in 2019 pre-pandemic.
“These federal unemployment benefits kept money flowing through our economy, helping families make ends meet and strengthening the recovery for all Oklahomans.
“Oklahoma must stop putting the desires of big corporations above the needs of Oklahoma families.”
Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa:
“This administration and several of my Republican colleagues in the House have pushed an ideology that says we should run government like a business. The problem with this ideology, as this issue shows, is that businesses count wins and losses based on profit, but a state government counts wins by improving the quality of life for its citizens. This policy change is a loss for the people of Oklahoma.
“Even the $1200 bonus the Governor touted is a product of funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.”
Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-OKC:
“This pandemic has been especially hard on women in the workforce. Through surveys and studies, we have discovered that increased domestic roles, lower wages, and decreased health outcomes due to stress have led to increased hardships for women, especially mothers.
“This action today does nothing to address these issues and plenty to make them worse. We need solutions for child care. We need to address the workforce issues we already know exist and have only been exasperated due to the pandemic, like the wage gap between men and women.
“We must do better for our mothers, sisters, aunts, and daughters. We must do better for our citizens. Now is the time for solutions, not the creation of more problems.”
Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman:
“After having helped hundreds of hardworking Oklahomans navigate an overtaxed unemployment system, and after getting to know many struggling families from all over the state, it’s clear that extra federal unemployment benefits have been and continue to be a lifeline for folks whose livelihoods have been affected by this devastating and ongoing viral pandemic. We need to continue to support folks, not cut them off.”