I have frequently expressed my view of the inappropriate influence of lobbyists over the legislative process.
I once watched, “The Best Government Money Can Buy,” a documentary that details the considerable influence of lobbyists over the development and implementation of policy.
It is the time of year when legislators file legislation for the next session. Every so often I feel it important to write an article which describes the process by which a bill becomes law.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, has requested Oklahoma House staff to draft legislation designed to limit the amount of tax dollars spent on the salaries of statewide elected officials, agency heads, and other highly compensated governmental employees.
Here is an antiquated House procedure that should be corrected: members of the House of Representatives vote on key legislation during a limited two-minute time frame.
Every so often, I field this question from those who are interested in state government: “How can I see state finances?”
Here’s some encouraging news: notwithstanding this year’s repeated ferocious attack by the Legislature upon the wallet of Oklahoma taxpayers, there is hope for the future.
For much of Oklahoma’s history, the conservative fiscal values of Oklahomans were upheld because state officials were unable to issue general bonded indebtedness without first receiving approval through a vote of the people. This is because Oklahoma’s constitution requires a balanced budget and prevents debt issuance without a vote of the people.
When asked to point out what I believe to be the most wasteful and inappropriate form of government spending, I can answer without hesitation. Without a doubt, it is the extremely inappropriate tendency of government agencies to hire private lobbying firms.
“We have a LOT of travel! There are a lot of savings to be found in this area.”
How would you reduce the state budget? To answer this question, I have maintained the following framework for restoring a responsible and fiscally conservative budget — without increasing taxes.
Observing the Legislature over the past 11 years have given me much perspective. I now have a tremendous appreciation for those courageous legislators who are willing to defend the taxpayer interests even under the most difficult of circumstances.
I have made it a practice to keep on file notable correspondence both written and emailed. From time to time, I go through these archives. Some of this correspondence is quite timeless and still relevant.
Prior to holding office I had heard the commonly used Action quote: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
It is a very old story and I have heard it repeated many times. It seems that legislators cannot hold a budget hearing or meet with representatives of state government agencies without being subjected to a long and nuanced description of the agency’s great financial needs.
Last week I described the dangerous decline of transparency in the Legislature and how this is leading to an environment into which terrible ideas are quickly advancing from introduction to passage before legislators can figure out the implications and before the public can realize what is being done to them.
Last week I described a key moment from the 2015 legislative session that put the Oklahoma Legislature on a downward transparency trajectory: legislators suspended an important transparency policy because their leaders told them that they would be required to work on a Saturday if they failed to approve the suspension.
State Senator A.J. Griffin has announced her endorsement of Republican Garry Mize in the upcoming election for Oklahoma State House District 31.
Last week I wrote of the devolution of openness in the Oklahoma Legislature.