| May 7, 2012

Time for agency, board, and commission reform

Following is an excerpt from OCPA’s Proposed State Budget for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2013.

With Oklahoma government spending at an all-time high (see chart), the time has come to set priorities and to exercise spending discipline.

Whether it is the Oklahoma Health Care Authority board’s indifference to a high director’s salary and ballooning Medicaid costs, or past Department of Human Services (DHS) commissioners’ indifference and destructive performance, it is time to hold board members accountable. This can be done by making all gubernatorial appointments at the will of the governor. Despite Oklahoma voters’ mandate for right-sizing government, “old guard” board appointments in some cases will outlast a governor, even a governor elected to two terms. This explains in part why higher-education regents allow tuition increases of more than 100 percent in just nine fiscal years, why other boards approve the hiring of lobbyists with taxpayer funds, and why still other boards grant completely undeserved salary increases. Making gubernatorial appointments coincide with the term of the governor provides for accountability, because the governor will be watching (knowing that the citizens generally hold the governor accountable).

In the longer term (as OCPA first recommended early in the Brad Henry administration), we must empower the governor even further by eliminating many of these boards and commissions altogether.

Submitted each year by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Inc. to the taxpayers of the State of Oklahoma and their elected Officials, the OCPA “Budget Book” is carefully crafted by Fiscal Policy Director Jonathan Small to help lawmakers set priorities and exercise spending discipline while creating a state budget that respects your family budget. Offering unmatched fiscal policy analysis and recommendations, Small draws on his experiences as a former budget analyst for the Oklahoma Office of State Finance, former fiscal policy analyst and research analyst for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and former director of government affairs for the Oklahoma Insurance Department to provide perspective on the state budget that you cannot find anywhere else.

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