Budget & Tax
Trent England | May 15, 2017
The bogus budget: Career Tech
Oklahoma spends over half a billion dollars every year through the State Department of Career and Technology Education, or Career Tech. As with many state agencies, appropriations by the legislature make up just a small share of this expenditure. As shown on the chart below, for every one dollar appropriated by the legislature, Career Tech spends about four more dollars from other sources (data from a recent Senate report).
One challenge for state budget writers is dealing with agencies like Career Tech and many state universities where funds collected and spent outside the appropriations process can drive up fixed operating costs. This happens when a university president chooses to raise money for a fancy administrative office tower or when a Career Tech district spends local property taxes on an expensive building. The capital costs are “free” in two ways—they impose no direct costs on the legislature’s appropriations budget and they are free from the legislature’s control or from being considered against other spending priorities. Of course, the costs are still shouldered by taxpayers, and the cost of maintaining those buildings once completed becomes an operating cost demanded from taxpayers every year.
Also, like any agency, there are plenty of questions legislatures might ask about spending priorities, like why is Career Tech celebrating June as “Transgender Month,” or could we better align responsibility for taxing and spending in the agency?
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.