Governor Keating's refusal to meet with the board of a state employees group is a slap in the face to state workers and indicative of the low priority he assigns to issues important to them, according to a Senate budget leader.
"I guess Governor Keating forgot that state employees are taxpayers who deserve an opportunity to be heard. They pay the taxes that pay the Governor's salary and his room and board. Treating state employees like second-class citizens who should be seen but not heard is unacceptable," said Senator Hobson, vice-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The board of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association sought meetings with legislative leaders and Governor Keating this week to discuss their legislative agenda. The Governor declined to meet with them, citing scheduling problems.
"I know Governor Keating has been keeping a busy schedule, testing the waters for a presidential bid in 2000, but there's no excuse for snubbing the leaders of one of the largest employee groups in the state. The Governor found time to host a fund-raiser with several Republican governors this week, but he couldn't spare a minute for the state employees who used their personal time to come meet with him. That shows you where his interests are," said Senator Hobson.
The Lexington legislator said he was surprised by the Governor's action, given the Keating administrations previous slights of state employees this year. For example, the Governor vetoed legislation that would have offset a rate health insurance rate increase for state workers. He also proposed a pay plan without funding, requiring agency heads to fund any raises with "savings."
"I would think he would be bending over backward to make amends with state employees after proposing a meaningless pay raise plan and handing down a veto that's going to take more money out of their pocket books. Apparently, state employees the people who do the real work in government are not very high on Governor Keating's priority list," said Senator Hobson.