The Norman Transcript

August 31, 2009

Both legislative chambers should curtail travel plans

When times are tough, travel by lawmakers should be curtailed. That's the sentiment of the speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Republican Speaker Chris Benge has suspended paying for out-of-state travel for House members. Mr. Benge told the Tulsa World the cutback is a proactive way of cutting back on House expenses.

The state this past month announced it had 26 percent fewer dollars to allocate last month and 18 percent less than the official state estimate.

Lawmakers, typically in session from February through May, use the summer and fall months to travel. The July National Conference of State Legislatures is usually a big draw.

The state Senate has taken no such action. A spokesman said the Senate is staying within its budget.

Lawmakers have cut appropriations to all state agencies and asked them to slown down on their spending. They also are looking at a special legislative session this fall to consider future cuts.

We think the Senate and the Governor's office should take the lead from Speaker Benge and also curtail travel. It sends a message to all state employees and taxpayers that the burden should be shared by all.