Henry seeks quick bond vote; Hiett reluctant

Saturday, March 5th 2005, 11:43 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Gov. Brad Henry urged House Speaker Todd Hiett on Friday to schedule a quick vote, perhaps next week, on Henry's $500 million higher education bond issue.

``This bond package has been discussed for more than a year, the project list and other details have been in the public domain for several months and enacting legislation received unanimous, bipartisan support in the Senate,'' Henry said.

``There is no legitimate reason to let this bill gather dust,'' the Democratic governor said. ``Every day that it sits on the shelf, the cost of campus improvements goes higher and higher because of rising interest rates and construction costs.''

Hiett was not available for comment, but his office issued a statement quoting the speaker as saying he was ``disappointed and shocked'' at statements of Henry and Senate President Pro Tem Cal Hobson, D-Lexington.

Hobson sided with Henry, saying this week a slight increase in interests rates cost the state $10 million on the bond program.

Hiett has offered an alternative proposal, which passed a House committee this week. The GOP speaker, however, said the Henry measure would not be considered in committee until after a deadline for action on House bills.

In his statement Friday, the speaker said he thought headway was being made toward an agreement between Democrats and Republicans on a bond plan.

``When a high-pressure salesman says, 'You must buy now, hurry up, because this is your last chance, it is the first signal that you should carefully consider your purchase,'' Hiett said.

He said if Henry ``wants a bond issue this year, trading press releases on a Friday afternoon is not the way to accomplish this goal.''

He said he hoped ``Henry's statement does not signal an end to negotiations.''