All Democratic House members were delivered a card with an “Oklahoma legislative pledge for responsible state government” Tuesday.
The card seeks each member’s signature saying they agree to “protect vital state services, oppose partisan griblock and stand up for tax relief.” By signing, members agree to override any budget veto by the governor.
The cards are in response to a looming veto by Gov. Brad Henry of a budget agreement passed by the House and Senate last week. He started by vetoing $1 million in supplemental funding Tuesday for an independent Corrections Department audit. He is expected to announce what he will do with the rest of the $6.89 billion fiscal year 2008 budget at 3 p.m. today.
House Minority Leader Danny Morgan called the cards a political stunt, and said he didn’t expect any House Democrats to sign the pledge card. In fact, as I searched for a card today, many Democratic offices had already thrown it away. One was returned to Rep. Trebor Worthen, R-Oklahoma City, with “Return to sender, this is stupid” written on it.
It is unclear what purpose the cards serve — Republicans certainly don’t need signed cards to know how many votes they have in favor of a veto override. To override a veto, the House needs 68 votes, meaning at least 34 Democrats must vote to sustain the veto to keep it in place. The top of the card reads: “Don’t let the taxpayers of your district suffer a shutdown of vital state services in Oklahoma’s 100th year!”
It appears that House Republicans are trying to get it on record that Democrats did not sign the pledge, and therefore are against “responsible state government,” as it says on the card. What they will do with that message is yet to be seen. Stay tuned!
Senate Republicans and Democrats, along with House Republican leadership proposed a budget agreement last week, which was then passed unanimously in the Senate and overwhelmingly in the House. The budget left out many of the governor’s proposals, and Henry and the House Democrats have complained that they didn’t have a seat at the negotiation table.
Are the House Republicans right in what they say in their pledge cards, that a veto represents a balk on responsible state government? They have argued the budget agreement was a bipartisan compromise and Henry and the House Democrats are opposing the budget because of hurt personal feelings. A veto could set up a government shut-down if another budget agreement can’t be reached by the end of the legislative session in May.
Or are Henry and the House Democrats right to attack the budgeting process, which was mostly decided by the House Republican leadership and Senate Democrat and Republican leaders? They have said it is unfair to link immediately needed supplemental funding for schools and prisons to a full 2008 budget. By putting both in one bill, lawmakers do not have enough time to review the full $6.89 billion budget, they say.
What do you think?