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.
Ritze, a constant conservative voice in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, looks for the legislation to accomplish the following three goals, which he feels would be beneficial to both taxpayers and the efficiency of state government:
1) Limit the salary of the governor to three times the average salary of state legislators.
2) Limit the salary of any agency head to no greater than the governor’s salary.
3) Limit the salary of any employee of a state agency to 90 percent of the employee’s agency head salary.
“We have agency heads making more money than our governor,” Ritze said. “If the governor is the chief executive of our state agencies, agency directors should not make more than the governor. Some of Oklahoma’s biggest problems, when you look at fiscal mismanagement or even outright fraud, fall at the feet of overpaid agency heads. This is the type of waste that our government needs to get rid of and quickly. We need this money to fund services for Oklahomans, not the bank accounts of bureaucrats.”
Ritze notes that while these reforms limit the size of the salary of most or all state employees, most state employees aren’t currently compensated fairly. One of the reasons for this, Ritze believes, is that their bosses are making more than they should.
“When we talk about reducing the size of government, we don’t necessarily mean cutting programs and positions,” Ritze said. “There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars we could save if we standardized or limited the pay at the top. Some may say that paying less at the top would bring in less qualified people. I would counter that argument by pointing out that the former commissioner of health was making nearly $200,000 per year, and that agency is now under investigation for six years of mismanagement. Furthermore, what is more important? Overpaying an agency director or being able to adequately compensate the hard-working Oklahomans below the agency director? I would argue the latter, and these reforms help accomplish this.”