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Brogdon: Give $2.6 billion back

Brogdon: Give $2.6 billion back


OKLAHOMA CITY – A state senator considering running for governor has some advice on what Oklahoma should do with $2.6 billion in federal stimulus money – give it back.

State Sen. Randy Brogdon said in a statement early Thursday there are too many strings attached to the money and he objects to the federal government imposing new mandates and regulations he thinks are outside its authority.

Brogdon, R-Owasso, said his advice to Gov. Brad Henry is to "give it all back to Obama and Congress."

"Of course I'm dead serious," Brogdon said later. He said the stimulus money is endangering the country's long-term financial health, while intruding in areas that should be controlled by the states.

"We are handcuffed and tied and bound and almost gagged to take this money," he said.

Henry spokesman Paul Sund said the governor has been working closely with Republican legislative leaders to make sure all are on the same page regarding stimulus funding.

"Governor Henry's position on the stimulus package has been simple and consistent," Sund said. "The package is not perfect, no legislation of that magnitude is, but because it is partially financed by Oklahoma tax dollars sent to Washington, D.C., the state should do its best to bring those dollars back to Oklahoma to benefit its citizens and its economy.

"It would be shortsighted to allow Oklahoma tax dollars to be spent in other states improving their roads and bridges, for example, but that is exactly what would happen under the stimulus scenario advocated by Senator Brogdon."

Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee and House Speaker Chris Benge said they could not go along with rejecting the entire package, but are concerned about federal strings and about expenditure of some of the money on recurring operational expenses of agencies.

"I'm not in favor of returning the transportation dollars and the Medicaid dollars," Coffee said. "That would put us in a difficult situation."
Benge said the $465 million the state is getting for roads and bridges is "one of those areas that will add value to the state" and represents one-time expenditures. "We're trying to build up our infrastructure anyway," he said.

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