For Immediate Release: March 4, 2003
Hobson: Williamson is Real 'Non-Starter'
Statement by Senator Cal
"Education remains our state's top priority, but it's not Oklahoma's only priority. Thousands of Oklahomans depend on state services for their daily existence, an existence that is threatened by the nearly $700 million budget deficit."
"The situation is very basic. Without new revenue, there won't be a family in Oklahoma that won't be affected by the severe budget cuts the Legislature will be forced to implement - cuts in services for the elderly, the poor, public safety, assistance for rural fire departments, every facet of state government."
"Just this morning, I met with more than a dozen mentally ill constituents from the Norman area who came to the Capitol to plead with lawmakers to spare their needed state assistance programs from the budget axe. These are real people with real problems."
"I explained to them the crisis the state is facing and the need for additional revenue if the Legislature is going to be able to avoid drastically cutting important programs like the ones they depend on."
"They seemed to grasp the gravity of the situation. I don't understand why Senators Williamson and Coffee can't."
"I think the people of Oklahoma are getting tired of this battle. Since before the session began, we have presented ideas to raise revenue. In response, Senator Williamson counters with a press release accusing Democrats of obstructing the process by not passing a common education appropriations bill immediately."
"What is their plan for the rest of state government?"
"I asked Republican leaders in the Senate for their list of revenue enhancement ideas twice last month. I still haven't received them."
"Governor Henry, in his executive budget, proposed more than $100 million in revenue enhancement programs to help ease the severity of state budget cuts. Senator Williamson and his caucus have yet to specifically endorse the governor's plan."
"I have put forth other revenue enhancing measures. Again none have been endorsed by the Republican caucus."
"Two weeks ago I offered to fast-track the common education budget, if Senator Williamson and his caucus would agree to support a temporary 1-cent sales tax increase dedicated to fill the education budget gap. He called the sales tax a 'non-starter.'"
"The 'non-starter' is Senator Williamson. I'm ready and waiting for him to join us in finding real solutions to the state's budget crisis."
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