OKLAHOMA CITY – State Sen. Kenneth Corn is gathering signatures from fellow lawmakers to enable the Oklahoma Legislature to call itself into emergency special session to deal with cuts to the state’s senior nutrition programs.
Corn, D-Poteau, said he has 25 signatures from Senate and House Democrats since he started the drive last week. He is asking every Republican legislator in the House and Senate to sign the petition.
Corn said he started the drive because state leaders failed to stop $7.4 million in budget cuts to Oklahoma’s various senior nutrition programs. He also is urging all lawmakers to turn down the per diem legislators get for meal and lodging expenses during a legislative session if a special session is called.
“Everyone’s now talking about these cuts. That’s good. There are many solutions out there, but nothing is really getting done,” Corn said. “Meanwhile people are going hungry and nutrition centers are closing. “It’s time for the legislature to do the right thing – right now.”
State Department of Human Services officials cut nearly 30 percent of the state’s nutrition program budget about a month ago, eliminating funding for more than 780,000 hot meals that were scheduled to be served to the state’s elderly and home-bound citizens over the next few months. Some senior nutrition centers have closed because of the budget cuts and more closings are expected.
“I know dozens of other legislators of both parties who feel just as strongly as I do about this,” Corn said. “I’m giving every member of the legislature the ability to state clearly where they stand on this issue and the entire problem of Oklahoma’s revenue shortfall.
Corn remains highly critical of recent DHS pay raises for top executives which cost approximately $200,000.