Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gov. Henry Convenes Special Session: Legislators Face Sine Die with Still No Budget in Sight

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gov. Henry Convenes Special Session: Legislators Face Sine Die with Still No Budget in Sight

Article excerpt

Having run out of time to get the state's budget completed by the constitutionally mandated end of the legislative session at 5 p.m. on Friday, the Oklahoma Legislature convened a special session on Thursday.

I want to emphasize that we are still making good progress on the budget, Gov. Brad Henry said Thursday. However, it has become clear that we're not going to be able to complete that work in time to meet Friday's deadline, Henry said, calling for a special session to begin Thursday afternoon to address budget matters, including revenue, tax relief, appropriations and other fiscal matters.

The special session will run concurrently with the regular session until the regular session ends on Friday. Convening the special session on Thursday allowed the Legislature to introduce and process the necessary appropriations bills according to legislative procedure, which takes a few days to complete.

It's very disappointing that lawmakers could not complete their budget work on time, Henry said. I'm certainly no fan of special sessions, but I do think it makes sense to get to work right away so that we can finish the job in an inexpensive and expedient manner.

The leadership of the Senate and of the House of Representatives has been at gridlock on the budget since April, with Republicans insisting on a large income tax cut and Democrats insisting on increased funding for government services. Henry said he was glad to see that negotiations resumed after he released a compromise budget proposal last week, which was rejected by his fellow Democrats and endorsed by the House Republicans.

Henry said it would be up to the legislative leadership to determine what date to return to the Capitol to finish the budget, but he anticipated there should be a short cooling-off period.

Tempers have flared in the last week or so of session, and I think it would be a good idea for legislators to get away over the Memorial Day weekend, said Henry. An agreement in principle on how to spend the state's nearly $7 billion budget should be in place by Friday, Henry said. But the particulars need to be ironed out before the Legislature returns in order to ensure a swift - and therefore less costly - special session. …

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