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Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry says if state skips aid, others will get funds

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry says if state skips aid, others will get funds

This article first appeared in The Oklahoman.

Published: April 17, 2009

Gov. Brad Henry said Thursday he was impressed with the nearly 5,000 Oklahomans who showed up outside the state Capitol complaining mostly about excessive federal spending.

"Generally, you don’t get that big of a crowd for a protest here at the Capitol,” Henry said. "That probably indicates that a lot of people out there across our state as well as across our nation are very frustrated right now and are suffering because of the economy.”

Rally organizers said the event was intended to send a message to Washington to stop excessive spending, such as the $787 billion federal economic stimulus package approved earlier this year. Petitions also were available for people to sign asking Henry to reject the state’s share of more than $2.6 billion over the next two years.

Some of the money reinstates a higher Medicaid reimbursement rate for Oklahoma. Funds will also be used to fund education programs, which will help the state deal with a $900 million budget hole for the upcoming fiscal year.

Henry said his administration is reviewing regulations "to make sure that every dollar that we accept is a dollar that benefits Oklahomans and benefits our economy.”

"We want to be careful and try not to spend those dollars on continuing operational kinds of things,” he said. "My choice is either to accept these dollars and put them to work for Oklahomans, creating jobs and helping the economy, or turning them back so that other states like Texas will take them to roads and bridges in Texas.”

Oklahoma is a donor state, meaning its residents send more tax dollars to Washington than they get back, he said.

"I think Oklahomans know better how to spend those dollars than do the politicians in Washington,” Henry said.

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