Although excluded from being involved in money talks, Gov. Brad Henry says he’s keeping an open mind on a budget agreement that could be announced as early as tomorrow.
“It’s difficult to speculate about any budget proposal until I’ve seen and reviewed the details,” the governor said. “For whatever reason, legislative leaders have excluded the executive branch and most of their fellow lawmakers from budget negotiations.”
The proposed deal was announced Thursday by legislative leaders.
Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater, co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, and House Speaker Lance Cargill, R-Harrah issued a statement saying they expect to make an announcement early this week “regarding the details of a bipartisan agreement on numerous budget-related issues.”
This is the first time since Henry, a Democrat, took office as governor in 2003 that his staff has not been involved in budget talks.
“So far, only three or four legislators have been involved in drafting the budget document that will be presented to the 149-member Legislature and the governor’s office for action,” said Henry, who served in the state Senate 10 years before being elected governor in 2002. “We won’t be able to pass judgment on any proposal until legislative leaders’ private budget talks are made public and we see the fine print.
“I’ve found the appropriations process works in a much more efficient and effective manner when the executive and legislative branches work together to develop a budget, just as we have in previous years during my tenure as governor.”
It’s unknown why the governor’s office was kept out of budget talks. House and Senate members are responsible for writing a budget, but the governor’s office usually is involved in discussions.
The House of Representatives for the third straight year is controlled by Republican. The Senate, however, for the first time is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Senate budget negotiators include leaders from both parties.