Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan said today he is disappointed, but not surprised by the Republicans’ latest political stunt in response to the public safety crisis in Oklahoma created by a shortage of corrections officers in the state’s prisons.
“Their solution to this serious public safety crisis is to hold a press conference. Senate Democrats intend to return to work tomorrow and Wednesday and pass a funding plan that will once again make Oklahoma families safe,” Morgan said.
More than six weeks ago, Senate Democrats unveiled a comprehensive solution to address the public safety crisis during the current special session as Governor Brad Henry has asked them to do. Monday, House and Senate Republicans, held a joint press conference to announce they believe the public safety crisis can wait until next year.
“Their collective ‘my way or the highway’ attitude gets us no closer to an agreement and no closer to giving corrections the funding they need to keep Oklahomans safe,” said Morgan, D-Stillwater.
Senator Kenneth Corn, Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary, said the ‘wait until next year’ plan unveiled by Republicans Monday asks the Department of Corrections to engage in deficit spending until session begins in February.
“It just goes to show that when you have spent 80 years in the minority party governing doesn’t come easy. If they had any clue at all how to govern they would understand they are asking us to agree to something that is irresponsible and reckless,” Corn said.
Corn said he was offended by comments that said Senate Democrats have been engaging in fanfare and theatrics all summer.
“Traveling across the state visiting with corrections officers, wardens and even inmates is far from theatrics. It’s called responsible government,” Corn said. “Republicans will say anything at this point in an attempt recover from the ‘do-nothing’ approach to this public safety crisis they have taken all summer long.”
Corn said Republicans are misleading the public by trying to deny that Oklahoma is facing a public safety problem and by calling the Senate Democrat plan an “early release” plan.
“Our plan does not include any early release proposals. It is shameful and wrong for Republicans to mislead the fine people of this state who depend on us to be their voice.” Corn said. “The are using the term ‘early release’ as a shiny object to distract Oklahomans who agree with us that something needs to be done now to keep Oklahomans safe.”
Morgan said despite the latest distraction attempt by Republicans, the Senate will still return to the Capitol Tuesday and Wednesday to act on a plan to ease the staffing shortages at the Department of Corrections.
“In the Senate, we’re going to do more than just hold press conferences to try and distract Oklahomans from the real issue. We are going to pass legislation that will make Oklahoma families safe again,” Morgan said.