Lawmaker Launches Pledge Campaign To Override Veto

Wednesday, March 28th 2007, 8:08 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Hours after Democratic Gov. Brad Henry vetoed most of a $6.9 spending plan; a Republican lawmaker challenged Democratic lawmakers to help override it.

Rep. Trebor Worthen, R-Oklahoma City, asked House Democrats to sign pledge cards vowing to override the governor's veto of most of the general appropriations bill for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Henry announced the vetoes Wednesday as 43 House Democrats stood behind him and applauded in a show of support.

"House Democrats have formed their own gridlock gang to keep this responsible state budget package from becoming law," Worthen said. "They need to quit playing games and throwing temper tantrums and commit to uphold this agreement. The taxpayers of this state expect them to stand up for responsible government and not play partisan games."

House Democratic Leader Danny Morgan of Prague and other Democratic leaders could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

In vetoing the spending bill, Henry criticized what he said was a "very flawed process" in which the fiscal year 2008 spending bill was negotiated by House and Senate leaders without input from him and House Democrats.

Morgan has said his caucus will vote to sustain Henry's vetoes if an override attempt is mounted by the House's Republican majority. It takes a two-thirds vote of the 101-member House, or 68 votes, to override a gubernatorial veto. There are 44 Democrats in the House -- 10 more than needed to defeat an override attempt.

The appropriations measure passed the Senate unanimously last week and the House voted 84-16 to send the legislation to the governor's desk. But many House members questioned whether appropriations for certain agencies, including public schools and state prisons, was sufficient and complained they had no input in the process.

"Instead of offering constructive criticisms and trying to help find solutions to budget questions, House Democrats are standing in the way of a responsible state budget, just because they don't feel like they had enough say in the process," Worthen said.

The veto will also prevent state government from meeting the self-mandated April 1 deadline to fund public schools.

"When we passed this budget bill last week, we met the deadline, but by vetoing this measure now, the governor and his gridlock gang of House Democrats are holding up funding for teachers and education," Worthen said.

GOP House leaders have said they hope to challenge the governor's vetoes. But no override vote has been scheduled.