Apparently embarrassed by his performance on education, Governor Keating is conducting a bit of "revisionist history" on his record of support for the public schools, according to a Senate leader.
"Governor Keating is trying to rewrite history again in an effort to reincarnate himself as some kind of friend of education," said Senator Kelly Haney, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Haney was responding to a press release issued by Governor Keating yesterday in which he claimed to be a champion for public education. The Governor reiterated his contention in a news conference today.
"The Governor's claim that he is a 'tremendous friend of education' is not only fiction, it's science fiction. Governor Keating can run from his sorry record on education, but he can't hide."
Senator Haney cited a number of exaggerations and falsehoods in Governor Keating's so-called record as a friend of education.
-KEATING'S STORY: Governor Keating signed "record" appropriations to education this year.
-REALITY: The Governor signed the Legislature's proposed education budget, which was significantly larger than the amount he proposed. He then vetoed $17 million of that education funding. Last year, Keating vetoed $8 million in education funding, and tried to cut higher education funding by $15 million.
-KEATING'S STORY: Governor Keating forced the Legislature to address teachers retirement needs.
-REALITY: In his first year in office, Keating ignored teachers retirement needs, saying they hadn't occurred on his "watch" and therefore were not his problem. The Legislature led the way on the issue the past two years.
-KEATING'S STORY: Governor Keating's rhetoric about public education has not been "malicious."
-REALITY: The Governor has referred to teachers as "slugs," accused them of purposely "dumbing down" students, and vowed to "break the back" of the teachers association.
-KEATING'S STORY: Governor Keating is for "real reform" in education.
-REALITY: This year, the Governor vetoed a sweeping school reform bill that included deregulation initiatives, innovative teacher training and a career teacher pay hike, all proposals he had endorsed at one time.
-KEATING'S STORY: Governor Keating is a "tremendous friend of education."
-REALITY: The Governor has attempted to cut the education budget, vetoed school funding, vetoed school reforms, personally attacked teachers and is currently attempting to divert education money to the transportation budget.
"With 'friends' like Governor Keating, education doesn't need any enemies," noted Senator Haney.
The Senate leader said Governor Keating has apparently realized his anti-education attitudes are not popular with the people of Oklahoma and is currently trying to transform his image.
"I guess you can't blame the Governor for trying to transform his image because he has the sorriest education record of any state chief executive in Oklahoma history.
"It's fairly obvious that Governor Keating is embarrassed by his attacks on public schools, otherwise he wouldn't be taking such great pains to try and cover it up.
"I would encourage the Governor to stop playing public relations games on education, and join us in supporting our public schools. Actions speak a lot louder than words, and to date, Governor Keating's actions have been exceedingly hostile toward public education."
The latest evidence of that is the Governor's plan to divert motor vehicle revenues traditionally earmarked for education to transportation. Such a diversion would cost the education budget approximately $170 million annually.
"Those are the kinds of actions that provide a vivid illustration of our Governor's attitude about public education," said the Senate budget leader.
"Oklahoma education is already in the bottom five nationally when it comes to per pupil funding. We can't afford to fall any farther, but unfortunately, that's the path Governor Keating is leading us down by siphoning money away from education."