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Cherokee Nation, Gov. Kevin Stitt continue tribal tag compact negotiations

Gov. Kevin Stitt gives the 2024 State of the State Address (left) and Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. during Cherokee Nation Legislation Day (right).
Legislative Services Bureau
Gov. Kevin Stitt gives the 2024 State of the State Address (left) and Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. during Cherokee Nation Legislation Day (right).

Earlier this week, Stitt’s official social media posted an infographic regarding the compact, sparking a direct response from the Cherokee Nation. In the reply, the Cherokee Nation said no agreement had been reached, but if there was, “tribal citizens and Council of the Cherokee Nation would be the first to know and not through the governor’s social media page.”

With the legislative session coming to a close in May, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. says there is renewed urgency to agree.

Under the current compact, the Cherokee Nation’s car tag revenue is distributed between state and local governments, with more than a third of all revenues put toward public education. Earlier in March, the tribe donated almost $8 million to more than 100 school districts. Hoskin says this deal, which lawmakers voted to extend last year, doesn’t need to be changed.

“The only thing we need to do in this state is continue to do what works,” Hoskin said in an interview with The Oklahoman, “and this compact works.”

Stitt has different demands, and while they’ve varied since the beginning of the year, he maintains his desire for the tribe to pay the $5 million in unpaid tolls accrued since the implementation of PlatePay.

The state has had issues collecting tolls for months. The rollout was especially challenged by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority's inability to read tribal tags.

“I don’t play games, I’m not playing chicken,” Stitt said in a press conference last week. “But I will not sign a bad deal for the state of Oklahoma.”

Hoskin says if an agreement cannot be settled, the tribe will ask for the assistance of legislators. That’s something that several tribal nations have leveraged before. Last year, the legislature overrode Stitt’s veto to extend several existing compacts until the end of 2024.

Stitt challenged that bill to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, where justices ruled in favor of the lawmakers.

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Copyright 2024 KOSU. To see more, visit KOSU.

Katie Hallum