One day after she and two other lawmakers sent a press release discussing a “mischaracterization” from Republican House leadership, Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang) has been removed from her committee chairwoman position.
House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) sent an email to House members this afternoon alerting them that Osborn would no longer lead the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.
Here is McCall’s email in its entirety (sic):
I wanted you to be the first to know that I have replaced Rep. Osborn as Chair of the Appropriations and Budget Committee.
Rep. Kevin Wallace is now Chair of the Appropriations and Budget Committee. I was greatly impressed with Kevin’s knowledge and capabilities of the budget process last session, and I appreciated his willingness to engage with all members of our Caucus. I believe he will serve our caucus and state well in his new role.
As always, I welcome the opportunity to visit with you personally about this matter or any other issue of significance to you. Please call me any time if you have questions.
Speaker Charles McCall
Osborn, former House A&B chairman Earl Sears (R-Bartlesville) and Rep. Pat Ownbey (R-Ardmore) sent out their release Monday after McCall and House Majority Leader Mike Sanders (R-Kingfisher) had criticized the Oklahoma Department of Human Services for its decision to cut $30 million in programatic activities, including those for seniors, the developmentally disabled, and adoptive and foster families.
“There’s no doubt that DHS’s costs have grown far in excess of appropriations,” Osborn said in the release. “Over the last few years, the Legislature has worked hard to increase the appropriation from $672 million to $700 million, but we can’t discount the fact that, during this same period, DHS has faced cost increases and lost revenue totaling at least $175 million. That is obviously far more than the $28 million increase in appropriations.”
Osborn did not return phone calls seeking comment, but she did issue a statement later Tuesday. It concludes:
It is a sad day when we cannot have an honest conversation about the major financial and budget issues we face as a state. I have always been willing to find solutions through conversations instead of conflict. Be assured, I will continue to stand up for finding achievable solutions to the myriad of problems in Oklahoma that keep us mired in mediocracy. I am here to serve and serving Oklahomans is what I intend to do. To that end, I want to say thank you for the overwhelming support I’ve received from members of the House and the public since this news was released. I’m humbled and uplifted by this sincere support. I also appreciate Speaker McCall allowing me the privilege to chair this committee.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson sent NonDoc the following statement after reading about McCall’s decision:
Speaker McCall’s actions today reek of retribution. The legislature refused to listen when DHS leaders warned that without additional funding, seniors and kids would suffer. Rep. Osborn recognized the critical funding situation and worked to try to fill the enormous budget hole we’re in. Now she’s being punished for speaking truth to power. I am troubled that reasonable voices are no longer welcome in our legislature. As governor, I would invite Rep. Osborn’s continued participation in the budget process. The people are best served when all voices are welcome at the table.
Osborn has been rumored as a potential candidate for statewide office in 2018.
(Editor’s note: This post was updated at 3:50 p.m. and 5:10 p.m. Tuesday, July 18, to include more information.)
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