Says Minority Leadership Knows Reality of DHS Cuts;
Are Disingenuous, Considering Their Past Inactions on Budget Issues
Senator Mike Johnson (R-Kingfisher), suggested Senate Democrats might have considered camping out on the Capitol grounds in 2003 to protest their own leadership’s inaction on the DHS budget cuts at that time, and offered a civics lesson on how state government works.
“I understand our leadership office has received letters from various members of the Senate Democrat leadership over the past weeks to call Republicans to task for funding cuts to DHS and other programs,” Johnson said. “They want our leadership to call a special session to deal with various budget matters, and now they’re camping out on the Senate lawn to call attention to the matter.
“Obviously, we are very concerned about the impact on the elderly, the infirmed and the homebound members of the greatest generation, and want to do anything possible to honor and care for them in their retirement years.
“And I’m certain the calls for help from Democrat leaders is heartfelt, and has nothing to do with politics leading up to 2010,” Johnson continued.
“But I’ve got to wonder where they were in 2003 when DHS suffered similar cuts,” he continued. “I didn’t see any of them pitching a tent and rolling out sleeping bags to show their concern for the elderly when they were in the majority, and failed to fully restore this funding for two years,” he added.
“The fact is six years ago when they were in the majority, they didn’t lift a finger to fund senior nutrition when faced with a similar fate,” Johnson said.
“In fact, every Democrat in the Senate with the exception of Senator Rabon voted against funding nutrition programs (HB 1197 – 5.20.02),” he continued.
In FY ‘03, the Department of Human Services cut funds to the Area Agencies on Aging, which administer senior nutrition programs around the state. Under Democrat leadership, cuts were not restored to these programs until FY ‘05.
“I also hope, given their genuine concern for the budget, that they will offer their own solutions to the crisis, as Senators Coffee, Williamson, Pruitt and I did in 2003, rather than write inflammatory news releases and resort to publicity stunts that bring no solutions,” he continued.
Johnson noted that all Democrat Senators voted for the DHS appropriations bill last session (HB 1216 – 5.26.09) and that DHS funding was mostly whole in the current budget, and that the aging services division, under which senior nutrition services are funded, received no cuts, as compared the vast majority of state agencies, who received 7% cuts in their budgets.
“The Senators know that the decision to cut senior nutrition by almost 30% was an executive agency decision over which neither Republican nor Democrat members of the Legislature have control,” Johnson concluded.