Senator Kenneth Corn
Democratic Caucus chairman
For Immediate Release: November 18, 2009
Sen. Kenneth Corn
Sen. Corn Says January Special Legislative
Session May be ‘Too Little, Too Late’
for Many Senior Citizens
Discussions of calling a special legislative session
between the governor and legislative leaders are “a move in
the right direction” a state Senator who has been pushing
for the call said Wednesday, but to delay an emergency session until
January may produce “too little, too late” for senior
citizens suffering the brunt of Oklahoma’s financial collapse.
Despite comments by the Governor, Senate President Pro Tem and the
Speaker of the House that a special session may be called by January,
Sen. Kenneth Corn said he will continue his petition drive that
would give the Legislature the ability to call itself into session
The Poteau Democrat said it is “unacceptable to wait another
30 to 45 days” to restore $7.4 million in cuts to the state’s
senior nutrition programs. Those programs provide meals daily to
the elderly at scores of sites across the state.”
“Our senior citizens need to eat now, not a month from now,”
Corn said. “The minute a special session is called, the Legislature
could restore the nutrition cuts quickly. I haven’t talked
to a single legislator, Democrat or Republican, who opposes that
idea. We need to meet immediately to restore the nutrition cuts—then
we need to continue to work on other budget reductions that will
be needed because of the economic descent we’re in.”
Corn said it was critical to begin by providing legislators details
of cuts that have already been made.
“Very few lawmakers know everything that already has been
cut. After everyone is updated, we need to get every legislator
involved in solving our budget crisis,” Corn said. “Solving
this solution will take us some time, and if we need to adjust numbers
as we go along we can do that. The budget committees do that all
Corn has been calling for a special session for weeks. He launched
his petition drive after the state Department of Human Services
slashed the senior nutrition program budget because of revenue shortfalls.
The cuts mean nearly 800,000 hot meals normally provided for the
state’s poorest senior citizens will be eliminated. The meals,
served primarily to seniors well above the age of 60, in many cases
are the only hot meals those elderly Oklahomans get each day.
As a result of the cuts, by the end of last week at least 51 senior
nutrition sites had closed down and services were drastically reduced
at 168 others, according to state reports.
Corn said the revenue crisis now also is devastating school budgets
and that the state is facing “a potential catastrophe unheard
of in modern history” when it comes to education budget cuts.
“No one knows for certain what the final numbers will be,
but we already know it will be a significant loss,” Corn said.
Tulsa Public Schools recently reported a shortfall of more than
$1 million and Oklahoma City Public Schools may be more than $3
million short. Corn said he expects more shortfalls to be announced
in the coming days.
Corn has collected 48 signatures from legislators wanting an immediate
special session. Two-thirds of the membership of the Oklahoma Senate
and House of Representatives are needed. Gathering the signatures
has been difficult because lawmakers are not currently in session.
“We have mailed the petition to all 149 members of the Legislature
and emailed them. I’ve talked to some Senate and House members
who have pledged to sign the petition but haven’t sent it
back yet. We are getting new signatures every day. It’s just
going to take some time to get those names in hand,” Corn
For more information contact:
Sen. Corn: 405-521-5576