KEATING VETO PLEDGE "IRRESPONSIBLE,
SENATE LEADER SAYS EDUCATION WILL REMAIN TOP PRIORITY
Despite veto threats
from Governor Keating, a Senate budget leader insists that
education will continue to be the Legislature's top funding
priority this year.
"I'm very disappointed
that Governor Keating has chosen to enter budget negotiations
with a hostile attitude toward public education," said Senator
Kelly Haney, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
"Every time he threatens to veto an education budget bill,
he sends the signal nationwide that Oklahoma isn't interested
in building a business-friendly environment to promote economic
"The Governor acts
as if our public schools are some frivolous expense that should
take a back seat in the budget debate, but we believe education
is too important to accept second class status and won't allow
that to happen."
program invests the lion's share of funding in education,
some $203 million additional dollars. Less than 24 hours after
legislative budget writers finished their work this week,
Governor Keating and his top lieutenants declared the document
"dead on arrival" and said they were stocking up on "veto
ink." A press release to that effect was issued Wednesday
on the eve of the first budget negotiations between legislative
and executive branch leaders.
that lead me to believe Governor Keating is more interested
in pursuing the irresponsible, gridlock politics he learned
in Washington, DC, than he is in advancing the fortunes of
our state," said Senator Haney. "I hope that's not true."
the size of the education budget, Keating lieutenant Tom Daxon
predicted it could lead to a "tax increase," even though under
State Question 640, the Legislature doesn't have the authority
to raise revenues without a vote of the people.
"Dragging the tax
bogeyman out of the closet is just another attempt to mislead
and needlessly scare Oklahomans. The fact of the matter is
we're investing growth revenue produced by an expanding state
economy, the same economy that Governor Keating enjoys bad-mouthing
so much," said Senator Haney.
"You can boil the
budget disagreement down to pretty simple terms. Right now,
there's a line drawn in the sand. We're on the side of education,
the Governor is on the side of the status quo.
"If we're going
to improve Oklahoma, we can't accept the do-nothing attitude
of the status quo crowd, especially in regard to our public
schools. We have to invest in education and move our economic
development efforts forward."
Senator Haney says
budget negotiations will be conducted in good faith, but budget
statements to the media will draw a response.
"I think it's very
important that we conduct good faith negotiations, but when
Governor Keating or one of his lieutenants launches a media
assault, we'll be ready to set the record straight.
"No matter how
large of a smoke screen his propaganda machine creates, Governor
Keating can't disguise the fact that the single biggest difference
between his budget and the Legislature's is education. We're
for a significant investment in education; he's against it."