Budget & Tax

Thanks, but no thanks

February 4, 2009

Brandon Dutcher

"Gov. Brad Henry urged Washington leaders to approve a stimulus bill," Chris Casteel reports today in The Oklahoman. "Henry, a Democrat, was among 19 governors who signed a letter to President Barack Obama expressing support for the bill ... 'As stewards of the economies of our respective states and regions, we urge the Congress to reach prompt resolution of all outstanding differences and you to sign the bill when it reaches your desk,' the governors' letter to the president states."

Did anything in that paragraph catch your eye? I for one was surprised to learn that Brad Henry is the "steward" of the Oklahoma economy. A steward is "a person who manages another's property or financial affairs."

No politician is the steward of Oklahoma's $139 billion economy. Oklahoma's governor is, at best, the steward of the executive branch of state government -- though even that stewardship is spread among several executive officers. Article VI of the state constitution outlines the governor's duties: deliver a State of the State message every year, grant pardons and paroles, approve or veto bills, and so on. In short, the governor "shall cause the laws of the State to be faithfully executed."

Hillary Clinton once averred that the president needs to be "ready on day one to be commander in chief of the U.S. economy." Umm, no. And no governor, Republican or Democrat, should fancy himself the "steward" of Oklahomans' property or financial affairs. Brad Henry is the commander-in-chief of the state militia, not the commander-in-chief of the state economy.