Wednesday, May 13, 2020

House Dems explain why they voted to override vetoes... of budget bills they opposed

Last week, House Democrats largely opposed three bills that plugged some of the budget shortfall by cutting the amount of funds that were supposed to go to teacher, firefighter, and law enforcement pension funds, as well as money from transportation (replacing those funds by more bond indebtedness). On May 5th, 18 of 23 House Democrats voted against HB 2741, 19 voted against HB 2742, and 8 voted against HB 2743. Today, they reversed course. On HB 2741, just Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-OKC) voted against overriding Gov. Stitt's veto, Dollens and Rep. Regina Goodwin (D-Tulsa) voted against overriding the veto of HB 2742, and only Dollens voted against the override of HB 2743.

The House Democrats were against the bills before they were for them?

Democrats Strengthen Veto Majority in Support of Public Education

OKLAHOMA CITY -- House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, released the following statement announcing that members of the House Democratic Caucus would join legislative Republicans to override Governor Stitt’s veto of House Bill 2741, House Bill 2742 and House Bill 2743.

“This legislative body, led by Republican majorities in both chambers, spent a large portion of last year’s legislative session giving the governor more power. Conversely, Republican leadership has spent this session trying to protect the legislature from an overzealous executive branch instead of taking back those increased powers.

“Last week, our caucus was asked to vote on a budget that borrowed money from Oklahoma retirees to pay the bills of the state. We said ‘no.’ Now, the vote in front of us is to support that budget, which we voted against, or uphold the governor’s veto and cut more than a hundred million dollars to public education.

“In the name of public education, members of the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus will vote to override Governor Stitt’s veto.

“We are doing this while the governor sits on $800 million in federal stimulus money. Now, Governor Stitt is quick to point out that the money can’t be used on anything but things that have been impacted by COVID-19. However, after looking at our state revenue figures, looking at stores shuddered across the state, Oklahoma’s workforce reeling from unemployment and furloughs, we wonder ‘what exactly hasn’t been affected by COVID-19?’

“Moving forward, I hope Oklahomans remember who pulled the easy lever of taking money from retirees and who made the hard decision to fight against it. I hope Oklahomans will remember that their governor gambled with more than $100 million of public education funding and who made the hard decision to fight against it.

“Oklahoma Democrats have been vocal for years about the need to diversify state revenue streams, and we will continue to call for stable, recurring revenue that can support public education and other core services without relying on one-time funds and taking money from pension systems.”


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