State Sen. Kenneth Corn of Poteau, chairman of the state Senate Democratic Caucus, criticized Senate Republicans in a statement late last week. Corn’s statement came soon after the majority party held the second of three “agenda” presentations anticipating the 2010 legislation session, which begins next week.
Corn asserted the GOP leaders were not addressing the state’s “horrible budget crisis.” He said they were showing “a lack of basic leadership” on revenue issues. In his statement, received by CapitolBeatOK, Corn contends, “Many ideas coming from Senate Republicans today were proposed by the Senate Democratic caucus years ago, including the Matthew Evans/Jeff Rominger Interoperable Communications Act. That measure, introduced in 2006 by Democrats, would build an 800 MHz interoperable communications system for law enforcement in Oklahoma.”
Sen. Corn said Republicans have been “unwilling to address the most pressing issues that are paramount to the safety of our citizens. Their agenda should include how they plan to ensure prisoners aren’t set free before they serve their sentences, how they are going to prevent Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troopers from being furloughed and how they plan to protect the well being of our senior citizens — thousands of whom are going hungry because of massive cuts to senior nutrition programs statewide.”
In a Thursday, Jan. 21 press conference, Republicans identified public safety and transportation as “core functions” of government. Senate President Pro Temp Glenn Coffee said discussions have continued with Gov. Brad Henry to find ways to sustain prison funding in the midst of unprecedented budget pressures.
In response to questions from reporters at that event, Sen. Coffee, an Oklahoma City Republican, said he and his colleagues want to “avoid furloughs of state troopers” and maintain safety essentials.