OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Keating has vetoed his own budget again, killing additional agency appropriations that he proposed in his executive budget, according to a Senate budget leader.
The Governor has vetoed increases for the Attorney General, the ABLE Commission, Indigent Defense and the Oklahoma Tax Commission, even though he proposed increases for those agencies in his executive budget.
"We thought it was just a beginner's mistake when he vetoed his own budget last year, but now he's done it again," said Senator Larry Dickerson, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and General Government. "That kind of erratic behavior really raises questions about the advice Governor Keating is getting from his handlers."
In a press release today, the Governor insisted he would sign bills that contain pay raises and "nothing more than my original budget."
"We already did that, and he vetoed the bills anyway. It doesn't make any sense," said Senator Dickerson.
The Poteau legislator was referring to Governor Keating's budget vetoes of the Tax Commission, the Attorney General's office, the Indigent Defense System and the ABLE Commission. The Governor said he vetoed the appropriations bills because they included more money than he proposed in his executive budget, but that statement is inaccurate.
For example, in his executive budget for FY '97, Keating proposed a $200,000 increase for the OTC. That total did not include funding for a pay raise the Governor agreed to later.
The Legislature passed a $180,000 increase (not including pay raise funding), but Governor Keating vetoed it, contending he had not proposed an increase in his executive budget.
In the case, of the Attorney General, the Governor proposed at least a $250,000 increase for "operational expenses," and another $648,000 for the Indigent Defense System. He then vetoed both increases approved by the Legislature.
"It's right there in plain English in his executive budget book. Governor Keating needs to get his stories straight so his veto rhetoric conforms with reality," said Senator Dickerson.
"This is just part of his running attempt to ram an unfunded mandate down the throats of state agency heads. He says he wants to give workers a pay raise, then he vetoes the funding for it.
"Governor Keating is creating a situation where agency heads will have to fire workers just to comply with a pay raise order that he signed, but now refuses to pay for. That's not fair to state agency directors or their employees."