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Oklahoma State Senate

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For Immediate Release: May 18, 2009

Sen. Charlie Laster
Sen. Charlie Laster

Concerned About the Fate of Rural Oklahoma, Democratic Senators Refuse to
Approve State Budget in Appropriations Committee Meeting

Concerned Republicans are leaving behind rural Oklahoma, every Democratic member of the Senate General Conference Committee on Appropriations refused to give their nod of approval to the proposed state budget today. Specifically Senate Democrats say cutting Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) funds completely out of the state budget will hurt rural fire departments, jeopardize senior nutrition programs and eliminate rural communities ability to make needed infrastructure improvements that supply clean drinking water to their citizens.

“This budget is being balanced on the back of rural Oklahoma and that is simply unacceptable to those of us who understand rural Oklahoma is the lifeblood of this state,” Democratic Leader Charlie Laster said. “We are prepared to use every legislative tool at our disposal to save rural Oklahoma.”

Democratic Caucus Chairman Kenneth Corn said he anticipates a spirited debate on the senate floor over this year’s budget and believes Democrats will be able to find the 25 votes needed to kill any budget that does not include funding for REAP.

“Senate Republicans have never been in charge of writing the state budget and the first chance they get to do so, they have shown they are willing to sell rural Oklahoma down the river,” Corn, who sits on GCCA in the Senate, said. “It is typical of Republicans to trot this budget out on a Friday afternoon and sing its praises hoping the public will never hear about the harm this budget will do to rural Oklahoma. Senate Democrats are prepared to have this discussion in public in hopes of shedding some light on this issue in order to protect the interest of the families in rural Oklahoma who will suffer under this budget”

The senators said REAP was created in 1996 as a way of boosting the economy and infrastructure of communities in rural Oklahoma. It was the only line item that was completely eliminated in the state budget. Last year REAP was funded at $15.5 million.

For more information contact:
Sen. Laster's Office - 405-521-5539

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