Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan said today that after comparing the Republican plan which advocates deficit spending with the Senate Democrats’ comprehensive plan that will be taken up during a special session today and Wednesday, he is confident the only plan that keeps Oklahomans safe is the Senate Democratic plan.
“Their plan is based on a ‘promise now-pay later’ mentality,” Morgan, (D-Stillwater) said. “Our plan is based on an ‘act now to keep Oklahomans safe’ mentality.”
Morgan said waiting until February to enact a supplemental appropriation for the Department of Corrections (DOC) would not solve the public safety crisis that places one correctional officer to every 135 prisoners.
“We absolutely cannot wait until February to hire more correctional officers.” Morgan said. “That is why Senate Democrats are here today. We want to ensure that those who have raped, murdered and stolen from Oklahoma families remain behind bars.”
Senator Kenneth Corn, Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary, said the “want until next year” plan unveiled by Republicans Monday asks DOC to engage in deficit spending until session begins.
“I understand that when you have been in the minority for 80 years there is going to be a learning curve when it comes to budgetary matters,” Corn, (D-Poteau) said. “But for a party that touts themselves as fiscally conservative, they should understand that deficit spending is reckless and irresponsible. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do simple math.”
Corn said he was also very disappointed that Republicans are misleading Oklahomans by calling the Senate Democratic plan an “early release” plan. He said the plan Senate Democrats plan contains absolutely no early release programs at all.
“One of the long term solutions we have put on the table is a plan that will put more money into drug courts and mental health courts,” Corn said. “And if Republicans are calling those programs ‘early release programs’ they are simply talking out of both sides of their mouths.”
Corn is referring to a press release that was sent from Speaker Hiett’s office on July 15th, 2005 that called drug courts “innovative” and a “wise use of taxpayers dollars.”
“I am not sure what has changed since July 15th when Speaker Hiett said ‘innovative programs like drug courts help achieve the goals of better public safety, a stronger judicial system and more efficient prisons,’ Corn said. “It sounds like to be they are the party engaged in political grandstanding by 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 agreed and said that House leaders can continue to draw a line in the sand by saying there is no need for a special session, but that the Senate intends to act now to keep Oklahomans safe.
“Their “my-way-or-the-highway” approach to governing will not stop the Senate from doing the work Oklahomans have elected us to do-keeping them safe from those who prey on our families.” Morgan said.