Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Governor vetoes bulk of 2008 spending bill

The Oklahoman's Jim Lange penned the cartoon at right earlier this week. According to the Associated Press, Democratic Governor Brad Henry vetoed most of a controversial appropriations bill today at the State Capitol. Read the story below:

By The Associated Press

Gov. Brad Henry vetoed most of a $6.9 billion general appropriations bill Wednesday and renewed criticism of the ''flawed process'' in which the spending measure for 2008 was negotiated by House and Senate leaders without his input.

A day after Henry used his line-item veto authority to strike $1 million from the measure for an external audit of state prisons, the Democratic governor slashed $6.8 billion from the legislative budget plan, saying it did not represent the best interest of Oklahoma taxpayers.

The measure was passed by a wide margin in the House and unanimously by the Senate last week.

''If I had approved this as a blueprint for the final budget, our prison system would be in danger of coming under federal control, and public safety would be jeopardized,'' Henry said.

He also said college students would be facing double-digit tuition hikes and teachers ''would once again be left wondering whether their pay would ever reach the regional average as promised or whether they would have a pension when they retired.''

The bill also did not address the underfunded teacher's retirement system, Henry said. The system is underfunded by more than $7 billion and state officials have said it threatens the state's bond rating.

Henry said he signed supplemental spending measures that were inserted into the general appropriations bill that will help public schools and state prisons pay their bills through the end of the current fiscal year June 30.

Legislative leaders have said they will attempt to override Henry's veto. An override requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature.

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