Archive for the ‘Rep. Rex Duncan’ Category

Hanging tough in Oklahoma

October 30, 2007

by Diana West

Something downright incendiary is happening in Oklahoma. First one, then 17, and now 24 state lawmakers have declined a copy of the Koran offered to all 149 members of the legislature by an official Muslim advisory group to Oklahoma’s governor. State Representative Rex Duncan, Republican, explained his rejection of the Koran this way: “Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology.”

That’s one way. Or I could start it this way:

Something downright incendiary is happening in Oklahoma. Gov. Brad Henry’s Muslim advisory council is offering personalized Korans to lawmakers to mark the state’s centennial, with each copy to be embossed with the Oklahoma state seal and the recipient lawmaker’s name. The all-Muslim group — plain-vanilla-named the American Ethnic Advisory Council — asked lawmakers to notify it if they didn’t want a Koran, which the group described as “the record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad.” So far, 24 have declined.

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GOP Leaders: What is Henry Trying to Hide with Veto of Audit Funds?

March 27, 2007

Republican leaders questioned today Gov. Brad Henry’s line-item veto of funding for an independent performance audit of the Department of Corrections – which the governor described as his “first” line-item veto of HB 1234, the bipartisan general appropriations bill overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature last week.

“What is the governor trying to hide with this veto? Is Gov. Henry afraid that an independent performance audit might uncover his mismanagement of a critical public safety agency? Independent performance audits at public school districts have proven very effective at improving efficiency and saving taxpayers’ money. We believe independent performance audits can have the same positive impact on the Department of Corrections and other state agencies,” stated Senate Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City.

“Perhaps the governor is worried that a more efficient Department of Corrections would interfere with his plans to implement the early release program that he outlined in his State of the State Address?” queried Coffee.

“Today Gov. Henry has taken a stand against fiscal responsibility. We hope that he does not decide to take a stand against bipartisanship, too, with additional line-item vetoes the bipartisan general appropriations bill. If additional vetoes occur, the governor will poison the bipartisan atmosphere at the Legislature and will set the stage for a possible government shutdown,” stated Sen. Mike Johnson, R-Kingfisher, the co-chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Rex Duncan, the House leader on public safety, expressed his frustration and disappointment after Governor Henry tried to kill a plan to conduct a top-to-bottom audit and outside review to fix problems in Oklahoma’s state prisons.

“After four years of failed policies to address our state prisons crisis, Governor Henry has shown the worst kind of arrogance today by killing attempts at reform. Governor Henry is apparently not interested in accountability to the taxpayers. The governor is now playing partisan gridlock games. What is the governor trying to hide by vetoing this plan?”

Duncan said the root of the state’s prison crisis stems from the failure of the governor and his financial adviser Scott Meacham to budget appropriately for costs at the Department of Corrections over the past several years, consistently low-balling estimates for the DOC by millions of dollars each year. In each case, the Legislature appropriated millions more for state prisons than recommended by the executive branch, and then had to make supplemental appropriations on top of that year after year.

The independent outside audit was part of a historic bipartisan budget agreement passed by an overwhelming margin last week in the State Legislature. The DOC audit has been supported by legislative leaders in both parties, and would cost $1 million — a mere fraction of the DOC’s massive half-a-billion-dollar budget.

“This audit has the strong support of leaders in both parties. It’s a solid effort to reform a broken system,” said Duncan. “If this is the governor’s first ‘symbolic’ line-item veto, he is sending a terrible message about business as usual at the State Capitol. The governor makes disingenuous claims that the state auditor or his finance office could perform this audit, but that undercuts his entire argument. His administration has failed to solve the problems in our prisons. Clearly we need some outside expertise, people who don’t have a political agenda
like the governor does.”

Duncan said he found it ironic the governor and Meacham apparently are working on hiring an outside consultant for the EDGE initiative, yet they don’t see the value in hiring outside expertise to help resolve the state’s prison crisis.

“We have a real problem in our state’s prisons right now, and it’s only been made worse by the failed policies of the governor. It’s time to stop the harmful cycle of band-aid supplemental spending on our state’s prisons, but apparently the governor is comfortable continuing to write blank checks into a broken system.”