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Oklahoma State Representative Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa) called on state lawmakers to “restore funding” to the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) after the governor vetoed the network’s reauthorization last week.
Republicans in the state House have teamed up with Gov. Stitt in their battle with the Republicans in the state Senate over how much taxpayer dollars should be diverted from public to private schools. Gov. Stitt vetoed over a dozen bills that reached his desk in an attempt to force the Senate to pass his education package.
One of those bills Gov. Stitt vetoed would’ve reauthorized funding for OETA to continue operating across the state.
“The legislature faces the task of preserving OETA, an Oklahoma institution for nearly seven decades, which serves as a vital resource for Oklahomans, particularly low and middle-income families,” Rep. Monroe Nichols said in an announcement on Monday.
“OETA delivers engaging educational, cultural, and informational content that encourages early childhood education and state pride, all while backing local communities through school collaborations, ad-free programming, and emergency broadcasts.”
Rep. Monroe Nichols calls on colleagues to override Governor’s veto on OETA
OETA is the only broadcast network that is available to all viewers across the state. In explaining his veto, Stitt accused OETA, one of the longest running PBS-affiliated state networks, of “over-sexualizing” children.
“Why are we spending taxpayer dollars to prop up OETA? It makes no sense to me,” Stitt said. “And when you look at the programming, I don’t think Oklahomans want to use their taxpayers to indoctrinate kids.”
Rep. Monroe Nichols, an Oklahoma Black Legislative Caucus member, clapped back on Monday.
“Make no mistake, the veto has nothing to do with what is good for Oklahoma. It is clear Governor Stitt saw another governor pick a fight with Mickey Mouse so now he’s doing his best to keep pace by sticking it to Big Bird,” he said.
Nichols accused Stitt of trying to create a national far-right profile similar to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has gone after Disney after the company voiced opposition to his bills targeting LGBTQ+ Floridians.
“It is unfortunate, but this action is part of the governor’s continued attack on public education and underrepresented Oklahoma communities. I urge my colleagues to allow common sense to prevail, stand with Oklahomans and join me in overturning this shortsighted, absurd veto.”