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Because the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is currently running a large surplus, Governor Keating should direct his appointees to lower tolls on Oklahoma turnpikes, according to a state legislator.
"Apparently the tolls are too high. Otherwise the turnpike authority wouldn't be pulling in so much surplus money," said Senator Bruce Price, who has been a vocal critic of recent plans for turnpike expansions and toll increases.read more.
Statement from Senator Cal Hobson, Vice-chairman Senate Appropriations Committee
The statement issued by Governor Keating is nothing more than a campaign press release. I don't know how the Governor can justify spending taxpayers dollars on something so blatantly partisan less than two months before the election.read more.
While Governor Keating was asking motorists to pay higher tolls to build two new urban toll roads this summer, his appointees at the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority were sitting on a cash surplus of more than $62 million, according to a new Senate analysis of OTA books.
"I was floored when I saw the size of the cash surplus over there," said Senator Keith Leftwich, who requested the analysis. The Oklahoma City legislator is leading an interim study of Governor Keating's turnpike program and the OTA itself.read more.
The Oklahoma Senate will move to approve an emergency appropriation for the State Ethics Commission when it reconvenes in February, according to the leader of the Senate. The action is designed to offset the negative impact of a funding veto handed down by Governor Keating in May.
"Because of Governor Keating's veto, the ethics commission can't do the job it is constitutionally required to do," said Senator Stratton Taylor, President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate. "We have to provide it with the resources it needs to be the watchdog of state government.read more.
If Governor Keating is intent on using a private prison consultant with "an obvious conflict of interest" to conduct a study of Oklahoma's prison system, he should require him to sign an agreement stating that his company cannot benefit from his examination or anything that may result from it.read more.
Today, state Senator Cal Hobson said the Governor misses the point when he claims a private prison industry executive he asked to study Oklahoma's prison system was recommended by a high ranking Democratic official.
"J. Michael Quinlan may have been recommended by the Attorney General. He has fine credentials and I'm sure he's a nice guy, but that's not the point," said Hobson, D-Lexington. "The point is J. Michael Quinlan and his employer stand to make a profit from his recommendations to the state."read more.
Statement from Senator Cal Hobson, Vice-chairman Senate Appropriations Committee:
"Comparing Mr. Quinlan's experience in Ohio with the proposed project in Oklahoma is like comparing apples to oranges. Mr. Quinlan would be operating in a far different capacity under much different circumstances in Oklahoma than he did in Ohio.
First, in Ohio, Mr. Quinlan was part of a study committee. He was one voice of many. In Oklahoma, Governor Keating wants him to be a committee of one. He would be the only voice we hear on corrections.read more.
A Senate budget leader is standing by a recent Senate analysis on transportation spending, saying a new study cited by a Keating appointee today is suspect because it was compiled by an organization that represents contractors who make a profit off of road construction.
"Our data came from the U.S. Census Bureau, theirs came from people who make money off of road construction," said Senator Kelly Haney, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who requested the study.
"Based on the source, I don't think the TRIP study is worth the paper it's printed on."read more.