By Patrick B. McGuigan | Oklahoma Watchdog
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin blasted the state Legislature Tuesday on a wide range of pending issues, striking particularly at lawmakers for not passing a bond issue to finance state Capitol repairs.
Fallin told reporters she’s disappointed especially with the House of Representatives for being “unconcerned with basic maintenance of the state Capitol.”
The Sooner State’s chief executive also expressed frustration with the Legislature for not acting on pension reforms to reduce unfunded state liabilities.
In addition to her rhetorical criticisms, Fallin vetoed 15 of the 16 House bills still before her Tuesday morning. She told reporters she wanted to “send a message” to the House and Senate.
Fallin said each of the nixed measures dealt with “minor issues.”
The vetoed measures touched on such issues as the authority of county commissioners, attempted limits on power of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, expungement of criminal records, sales tax exemptions for veterans and infant vaccinations.
Fallin characterized each of the measures as serving “no significant interest of the citizens” of Oklahoma. She called on the Legislature to use its “valuable and now limited time” to tackle major issues, instead of using up time on secondary issues.
The constitutionally mandated deadline for adjournment this year falls on May 30.
Fallin stressed her pressure for action will “not be a one-day deal.” She wants the House to move on priorities listed in her State of the State address in February.
Fallin also pressed the Senate and House to send to voters a proposed constitutional amendment allowing local school districts to exceed bond limits for storm shelters.
She said lawmakers should also negotiate over the horizontal drilling incentive for oil and gas wells. That levy was reduced from 7 percent to 1 percent in the early years of horizontal drilling technology, but will return to the higher tax next year unless a new rate is negotiated — or the lower rate is enacted as a new law.
On the lack of Capitol repairs, Fallin said, “The Capitol is not something that just jumped up. Frankly, I’m a little irritated they’ve not acted on it.”
In opening comments to reporters at a noon hour briefing, Fallin didn’t include in her gripe list the Legislature’s inaction on funding for the American Indian Cultural Center, a priority to many of the state’s business leaders and tribal governments.
However, in response to questions, Fallin said she was upset with the House “kicking the can down the road” on the center.
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