Henry Vows To Veto Of Appropriations Bills

Wednesday, April 11th 2007, 2:12 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- In the face of a veto warning, Oklahoma senators voted unanimously on Wednesday for five appropriations bills that contained the same funding that Gov. Brad Henry struck down two weeks ago.

Before the afternoon Senate session started, Henry held a news conference to say the latest strategy by legislative leaders to pass individual appropriations bills would be "dead on arrival" if the lawmakers made no changes from a vetoed general budget bill.

"Instead of wasting time on a political exercise in futility, legislative leaders should come to a negotiating table and hammer out a budget that addresses taxpayers needs and includes input from everyone, not just a select few," the Democratic governor said.

"If legislative leaders send me the same product in a different package it will be dead on arrival."

House Speaker Lance Cargill, R-Harrah; Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater, and Senate President Co-Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, disclosed Wednesday they would send Henry single appropriations bills.

Last month, lawmakers sent Henry a $6.9 billion general funding measure containing money for all state agencies. Henry vetoed most of that bill.

At a news conference, Morgan and Coffee danced around Henry's demand that his office and House Democrats be included in budget negotiations and renewed their request that Henry present a new budget plan.

Neither Morgan nor Coffee would say when a budget meeting with the governor might take place, while renewing their request that the governor present lawmakers with a new budget.

Henry has said he has outlined his priorities and devising a new budget would only prolong the process.

Cargill issued a statement saying Henry "continues to sit on the sidelines and throw rocks at our ideas without submitting any of his own."

He said it made no sense for Henry to veto the single funding measures because they are based on Henry's original budget. "This is the theater of the absurd," Cargill said.

The five bills passed by the Senate on Wednesday contained the same funding for agencies that was in the general appropriations plan.

The measures all funded agencies at last year's levels. They were the Oklahoma Tax Commission, the Office of the State Treasurer, the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission, the Department of Libraries and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.

Henry had said he would veto any appropriations bill that was unchanged from the original budget bill and renewed his call for budget negotiations that include his office and House Democrats.

The governor on March 28 vetoed all the money in the general appropriations bill except $92 million in supplemental funding for schools, prisons and other areas.