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Henry

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Results of a recent SoonerPoll find most Oklahomans believe state agencies seeking outside legal council should use competitive bid process enforced upon state contractors. The majority – 62.7 percent – of Oklahomans said state agencies should follow the competitive bid process, while only 20.1 percent of Oklahomans disagreed.

“The results of the survey show that most Oklahomans would like to see legislation addressing the competitive bid process in relation to state agencies that seek outside legal counsel,” Dr. Keith Gaddie, Vice-President of SoonerPoll, said.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 1000 likely voters from February 25 – March 8. The study has a margin of error of ± 3.1 percent.

Under the Oklahoma Public Competitive Bidding Act of 1974 all contracts exceeding $12,500 awarded by any public agency for the purpose of public improvements or constructing any public building must be given to the lowest responsible bidder after solicitation for sealed bids.

The purpose of competitive bidding is to stimulate competition and prevent favoritism while securing the best work and materials at the lowest cost, now many Oklahomans would like that same concept should apply for state agencies looking for outside legal counsel.

House Bill 2167 would have amended the Competitive Bidding Act of 1974 to require state agencies to use the competitive bid process when seeking outside legal counsel when fees and services were expected to be more than $5,000. HB 2167 passed in the house but was vetoed by Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry in May 2009.

“Voters view retention of counsel by public agencies as another contract relationship in need of oversight,” Gaddie said. Gaddie went on to explain that the issue is not a partisan one, in fact, further analysis of the results show there are no differences among Republicans, Democrats and Independents in terms of support for the issue.

However, further results did show that among those who had an unfavorable opinion of trial lawyers 68.2 percent were in favor of the competitive bid process for outside legal counsel while slightly fewer – 59.6 percent – of those with a very favorable opinion of trial lawyers were in favor.

In his veto message Henry said that the bill was well intended and had many good provisions, but “the legislation potentially does more harm than good because of its unintended consequences.”

This is not the first time Governor Henry has found himself on the other side of public opinion, past polls have shown that Henry is often on the other side of public opinion, though his approval rating remains high.

On March 10, 2010 Senate Bill 1379, which is similar to the one Henry vetoed last session, passed in the State Senate with a 43-0 vote.

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OKLAHOMA CITY – With two different budget plans locked in a stalemate at the State Capitol, a new poll finds that most Oklahoman’s prefer the plan proposed by House Republicans and Governor Brad Henry over another plan offered by Senate Democrats.

SoonerPoll.com, a public opinion research firm in Oklahoma City, conducted the telephone poll of 510 Likely Oklahoma voters just over the weekend, May 20-21.  The poll’s margin of error was 4.3%.

Complete toplines and crosstabs

When likely Oklahoma voters were asked which plan they supported of the two plans on the table, 58% supported the bi-partisan Henry/Hiett plan over the Senate Democrat proposal with 37% support.  4.7% were undecided.  In a breakdown by party affiliation, 45% of Democrats supported the House Republican and Governor Henry plan and 75% of Republicans.

Respondents believed teacher pay (40%) and cutting taxes (35%) were the top two priorities in how the state should spend the tax receipt surplus, which is the largest in state history.  All other mentioned proposals such as increased state spending (1.8%), a state employee pay raise (8.6%), and increasing funding for higher education (9.2%) were all in the single digits.

When asked how much should be returned to taxpayers after the state meets all its current financial obligations, more than half of respondents, 56%, wanted all of at least half of the budget surplus returned to taxpayers, which is more than either plan contains.

Increased government spending or new spending was not popular among those polled.  Only 29.6% agreed that new or increased government spending was needed.  Slightly more favored increasing funding for higher education and raising the pay of state employees, but none received a major of likely voters’ support.

Men were more likely to favor cutting taxes (42%) than women (30%), which women favored raising teacher salaries (46%) than men respondents (33.6%).

Not surprisingly, the more conservative the poll respondent was, the more likely they supported the Henry/Hiett plan, and accordingly the more liberal the respondent, the more likely they supported the Senate Democrat plan.

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