Oklahoma Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, sent a letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt on April 20 encouraging the governor to “support publicly the belief that it is time to open the economy and get Oklahoma back to business” by May 1.
Referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bullard wrote, “It is my belief that we have flattened the curve and the models and predictions that were previously given were based on a zero-sum base.”
Under the leadership of Stitt and the legislature, the senator explained, “We have brought the state through this crisis and we must start looking to reopen the business and commerce before more economic damage is done.”
In the lengthy letter, Bullard outlined what he described as reasons to “compel” the governor to reopen the state’s economy.
He said models show that the effects of the virus will trend downward by May 1 and that “peak projections are far below original numbers which had led to the original closure and intervention decisions.”
He said due to social distancing and other measures, “we have flattened the curve. ... As long as we open the economy and still maintain some social distancing through the summer, I see no reason why we cannot let businesses go back to doing what they do best.
“The curve we must bend now is the economic curve of how big the recession will be. ... We can reopen the economy in a way that will not further the spread of the virus but will let the pieces come back together.”
People across the state as well as in the legislature will partner with Stitt “to accomplish this complex goal,” Bullard wrote.
Bullard contended that a key to reigniting the economy is to assist chamber of commerce groups statewide.
“With the new money coming in from the CARES act and the Critical Health Emergency Declaration which we approved, there are funds available to assist the chambers in facilitating a strong economy.”
Bullard contended, “At the news of the reopening of businesses, our economy will surge. However, that growth lessens the longer we wait.
“Local economies are heavily dependent on the revenue generated by local tax dollars. Municipalities and first responders including police, fire and EMS, require those dollars to be able to remain effective. Other services from the city to county governments are included in this and need to be helped in this time by letting the economy go back to work.”
Meanwhile, local governments, he wrote, “must be able to concentrate on the census” and the COVID-19 “crisis has hindered our ability to achieve the census participation that is needed and requires significant attention in every county in Oklahoma. Reopening the economy would free up municipalities to get back on track.”
Farming and ranching communities have also been impacted, the senator contended, and “are in desperate need of help. ... Revenue from the farmer’s market, cattle sale barns and small businesses will make a massive difference in the coming year for our agricultural community.”
Also “hurting,” Bullard wrote, are childcare facilities, which “risk permanent closure which will have a negative ripple effect on our workforce capabilities when the economy does reopen.”
Bullard wrapped up his reasons for reopening Oklahoma’s economy by reminding Stitt, “The longer this state of crisis continues the more the Constitution’s precious liberties are compromised. We run that risk in any crisis when fear becomes the driver of policy rather than Constitutional principle. ... Our first responsibility is to protect people, which we have sought to do. The results are evident. Our pathway ahead is to stand guard over an untethered Constitution.”