ENID, Okla. — State Reps. Chad Caldwell and John Enns said a lot of uncertainty remains as state leaders continue to work to come up with a budget solution.
Caldwell, R-Enid, represents Garfield County in the state House, and Enns, R-Enid, represents parts of Canadian, Garfield, Kingfisher and Oklahoma counties.
"We're obviously in a challenging budget environment ... we obviously had one plan that came close to garnering enough bipartisan support. It passed in the Senate and came up a few votes short in the House," Caldwell said. "(That) left us with not a lot of room to turn, which is why we passed the budget that we passed."
He said he thinks no one from any side or political spectrum loved the proposed budget deal, but that it was the best option with legislative time constraints. Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed much of the plan the Legislature approved, leaving the state without a budget for next fiscal year. Fallin has indicated she would call lawmakers back in a second special session, but has not made that call yet.
"I think many like myself felt that was the best we were going to do at that particular time. I still think that's true. I think that budget would have put us in a difficult position for next session; however, with the governor vetoing the budget, I think we're now back into a difficult situation and we'll see where we move from here," Caldwell said.
Enns said from his knowledge and what lawmakers were told the House, Senate and governor had a deal worked out, and so the House passed it, and he said everybody was relieved. Then, the governor vetoed part of it, and Enns said everyone was shocked.
"It was a shock to about everybody. I mean, I'm not in leadership anymore, so I don't know exactly what was said, but it was obviously sold that way, and so now I know there's a lot of people at the Capitol that are upset with the governor. So for her to call another special session, she's going to really have to work behind the scenes because there's a lot of people that won't trust her now," Enns said.
Caldwell said there are varying political philosophies in the Capitol, and that "everyone wants to do what's best for the state," but that each person's definition of what is best varies, which has caused numerous challenges.
"My general philosophy is I want government to run effectively and efficiently, but I also understand the need to invest back in our core services as well ... We must be able to do both, we should be able to invest back in our state and in our programs while at the same time demanding effective, efficient programs," Caldwell said.
Enns said with the budget veto there's an atmosphere of distrust in the Capitol.
"There's a lot of mistrust in there now ... I wasn't in those negotiation meetings, but it's just from what I was told, and now I hear from a lot of different members that they just don't trust anymore," Enns said. "I don't know whether we can get anything done or not if she calls another (special session)."
Some common ground has to be found for the good of the state, Caldwell said. He added he knows many people, across the state and in the Capitol, are frustrated with the current situation.
"We're working hard every day to go down and to find a solution to the problem that's going to be best for our state. So we'll continue to work on that and we'll get it done because that's what we have to do," Caldwell said.
Enns hasn't heard yet when Mary Fallin is going to call the new special session, and said that he's unsure of what exactly is going to happen. Although, Enns said, he talked with Fallin recently about what he thought needed to be done.
"Honestly I think everybody out there (is) just kind of walking around with question marks. Unfortunately, I really don't know very much right now," Enns said.