Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Henry's Veto Returns Budget Process to Ground Zero

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Henry's Veto Returns Budget Process to Ground Zero

Article excerpt

Casting aside his facade of self-proclaimed bipartisanship, Gov. Brad Henry revealed an inclination for partisan politics by vetoing the $6.8 billion budget bill previously passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of the Legislature.

What he negated was a sound and reasonable budget agreement between the Republican majority in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Democrats and Republicans in the evenly divided state Senate.

The Democrat minority in the House, a majority of which originally voted for House Bill 1234, and now, led by Minority Leader Danny Morgan, D-Prague, who now is complaining about being left out, are waffling on the agreement.

Regardless of the spin the governor's office is trying to place on it, Henry admitted his reasoning for this drastic action was what he called a "flawed process" in drafting the budget.

The governor should have been engaged in the process earlier and could have been. House Speaker Lance Cargill, R-Harrah, President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater, and Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, all insist he was invited to participate in meetings where the budget was developed. They repeatedly vowed his staff was kept informed. There is no reason to question their assertions.

The bill was passed while Henry was on what some termed a "spring break."

What is this "spring break" during a key budget-writing segment of the legislative session? Most people look on spring break south of the border as being for high school and college students.

Now that he is back, the governor wants to start over with negotiations, but except for some generalities he was obscure as to what he wants that differs from what he vetoed

Some think Henry was pushed into this position in his absence by his budgetary Svengali, state Treasurer Scott Meacham, who serves as his treasury cabinet secretary.

Because of a perceived slight by legislative leaders in writing the budget, Meacham launched a campaign of disparagement immediately after the bill passed.

Strangely most of the complaints about being excluded came after the bill was on the governor's desk. …

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