OKLAHOMA CITY -Several rural Oklahoma communities and the Quality Jobs Program took it on the chin when Governor Keating handed down his latest vetoes, and those actions will jeopardize the state's ongoing economic development efforts, according to a Senate budget leader.
Keating wiped out appropriations for the Central Oklahoma Economic Development District, the Kiamichi Economic Development District and the Eastern Oklahoma Economic Development District. The funding was specifically earmarked for "promoting economic and community development" in those rural areas.
"I think it's pretty ironic that a Governor who says he's trying to save rural Oklahoma is cutting funding that would help boost economic growth in our rural communities," said Senator Larry Dickerson, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Transportation. "Our rural communities are hurting, but the veto sends the message that Governor Keating isn't willing to help. It's like kicking someone when they're down."
In addition to the rural economic development vetoes, Governor Keating killed funding for Commerce Department advertising that would have promoted the highly successful Quality Jobs Act. That incentive program has been credited with creating more than 42,000 jobs since its inception in 1993.
"Advertising is the most effective way to get the word out on Quality Jobs and bring new industry to Oklahoma. It's been a pretty good investment judging from all the jobs we've created, but apparently, either Governor Keating doesn't know that or doesn't care.
"There's no telling how many jobs his vetoes are going to cost us."
The Poteau legislator says he's particularly surprised by the vetoes in light of Governor Keating's recent praise of Quality Jobs. Even though the program was enacted before he became Governor, Keating has lauded it as one of the most effective job creation tools in the country.
"This seems to be another case of him saying one thing and then doing another. Quality Jobs is great, but he cuts its ad budget. Rural Oklahoma needs help, but he cuts economic development funding for it. We need to execute death row inmates, but he cuts the agencies that are in charge of expediting the cases.
"That kind of behavior is pretty frustrating, especially when the future of Oklahoma is at stake." Senator Dickerson says he also finds it interesting that Governor Keating notified the media about the vetoes before he officially informed the Legislature. The House and Senate have yet to receive official notification of the latest veto action.
"It seems like this is some kind of public relations game to Governor Keating, that he doesn't realize he's affecting the lives of people," said Senator Dickerson. "The vetoes are anti-business and anti-economic development, there's no other way to describe them. The Governor may think he's gaining political points by flexing his veto muscles, but all he's really doing is hurting our economic development efforts, especially in rural Oklahoma."