In this week’s Capitol Report segment on News9, the CBS affiliate in Oklahoma City, Patrick B. McGuigan pointed to three things flowing in the aftermath of Governor Mary Fallin’s veto of the state budget enacted in special session. First, House Speaker Charles McCall almost immediately announced formation of a special investigation panel to examine state agency mismanagement, beginning with the state Department of Health.
Second, Republican legislative leaders were taken aback by the veto. State Rep. Jon Echols of Oklahoma City, a key player in the majority caucus, had tried to push some of the chief executive’s agenda during the session, including her request for revenue increases.
McGuigan quoted Echols (from a report in The Oklahoman) saying he and others did not understand “what the intent of this is,” and observing it left “a lot of unanswered questions.”Echols and others “had no notice this was coming, and we were told she was going to sign it.” McCall said the veto was “a complete reversal of her promise to the Legislature,” interjecting “more chaos and drama into the lives of Oklahomans.” Senate President Pro Temp Mike Schulz agreed her action threw the budget “further into chaos.”
Third, McGuigan observed, the veto came even as state government revenues continued a months-long surge. In dialogue with reporter Alex Cameron, the CapitolBeatOK editor’s focus turned to the legislative pay cut. McGuigan said, in the segment also broadcast at Newson6 in Tulsa, the pay reduction by the pay commission seemed designed to punish lawmakers for sticking to their principles.