"We recognize that all state agencies and programs are experiencing a funding shortfall,” said Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, a member of the rural GOP Senate caucus. "But we feel this particular program is critically important, especially as we move into the winter months.”
Meanwhile, Democratic Sens. Kenneth Corn of Poteau and Tom Ivester of Elk City camped on the Capitol grounds to draw attention to the cuts.
Corn, who is running for lieutenant governor, denied that it was a political stunt. He earlier called for a special session to restore the funding.
Sen. Mike Johnson, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said it is unfair for Democrats to blame the Republican-led Legislature for the cuts.
"I’ve got to wonder where they were in 2003 when DHS suffered similar cuts,” said Johnson, R-Kingfisher. "I didn’t see any of them pitching a tent and rolling out sleeping bags to show their concern for the elderly when they were in the majority and failed to fully restore this funding for two years.”
Johnson said all Democratic senators approved the DHS budget for this fiscal year and that they know cutting the senior nutrition program was an executive agency decision.
Older Oklahomans plan to rally to get funding restored to the programs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today on the Capitol’s second-floor rotunda.
Know It: Retirement