Law & Principles

Trent England | April 21, 2015

Oklahomans want Transparency for Federal Funding

Trent England

The Oklahoma Senate is considering House Bill 1748, which would require state agencies to disclose information about their relationships with the federal government. The bill is part of a multi-state effort to increase transparency when it comes to “free” federal money. In fact, these federal tax dollars are often used to manipulate state policymaking.

It turns out, Oklahomans strongly support this concept. This should come as no surprise, since officeholders from Gov. Mary Fallin to most members of the State Legislature won office by promising voters they would stand up against Washington, D.C.

How strong is public support for federal funds transparency? A public opinion survey just conducted by Sooner Poll found that Oklahomans favor this idea by a nearly nine-to-one margin. (OCPA Financial Ready Question Poll Results)

One of the arguments for greater transparency is that policymakers and agency leaders need to be able to plan for possible reductions in federal funding. After all, the federal government has run record deficits in recent years. This unsustainable spending is going to be reined in, and one of the easiest places for Congress to cut is funding to states.

Most of the public agrees. When asked “how important is it for Oklahoma to be financially prepared” for possible reductions in federal funding, 76 percent of respondents said this is “very important.”

Perhaps the strongest argument for federal funds transparency is that the money often comes with strings attached. Federal programs and grants may require additional state expenditures. They sometimes mandate or limit state policy decisions, quietly shifting power out of Oklahoma and into Washington, D.C. Increased transparency would make it clear to policymakers and citizens alike when this happens and could be the first step in reining in this area of federal overreach.

Trent England David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow

Trent England

David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow

Trent England is the David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, where he previously served as executive vice president. He is also the founder and executive director of Save Our States, which educates Americans about the importance of the Electoral College. England is a producer of the feature-length documentary “Safeguard: An Electoral College Story.” He has appeared three times on Fox & Friends and is a frequent guest on media programs from coast to coast. He is the author of Why We Must Defend the Electoral College and a contributor to The Heritage Guide to the Constitution and One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty. His writing has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Times, Hillsdale College's Imprimis speech digest, and other publications. Trent formerly hosted morning drive-time radio in Oklahoma City and has filled for various radio hosts including Ben Shapiro. A former legal policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, he holds a law degree from The George Mason University School of Law and a bachelor of arts in government from Claremont McKenna College.

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