OKLAHOMA CITY -- House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, released the following statement in response to Governor Stitt’s announcement that he will enroll Oklahoma into the Lost Wages Assistance program.
“While we appreciate Governor Stitt’s concern for unemployed Oklahomans, it is disappointing that he would sign them up for a 50 percent reduction in their federal unemployment benefits,” Virgin said. “Oklahomans work hard, and they deserve to be protected. Decreasing this benefit hurts Oklahoma’s workforce, small businesses, and our communities that rely on sales tax to survive.
“It seems that the governor hopes he can enroll Oklahoma into this program, and then our state will be omitted from the higher unemployment benefit in the stimulus package Congress passes. Two days before the White House announced the federal unemployment program, Governor Stitt said Oklahomans didn’t need additional federal assistance. Unless he has changed his mind, it makes sense that this reduced-rate program is an attempt to limit the federal assistance Oklahomans receive.
“Oklahomans deserve to have a governor who is an advocate for their federal tax dollars coming home, not an adversary. Unfortunately, reduced federal unemployment isn’t the first time the governor has argued to keep Oklahoma’s federal tax dollars in Washington, D.C. His entire political career, he has advocated against the 9 to 1 match of Medicaid expansion.
“I understand the governor’s desire to reduce the national debt, but attempting to settle the liability of a nation on the backs of Oklahomans is cruel and unfair.”