Conservative Index Add
pagetitle

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017Last Update: Friday, February 3rd, 2017 01:39:14 PM

The Senate Transparency Conundrum

By: Rep. Jason Murphey

Regular readers of the state's appropriations bill were greeted by something new as they opened this year's version of the venerable legislation.

Historically, the bill has contained a section-by-section narrative detailing the assignment, or transfer, of dollars to the many government agencies and programs. This document, often confused with the state budget, assigns about 7 billion of the approximate 17.5 billion spent by state government.

In reality, only about 30% of state government spending goes through the legislative process. What about the other 10 billion of spend? A majority comes from the federal government and goes directly to state agencies where it is spent outside the constraints of legislative review. Millions more originate from the regulation and licensing by the many non-appropriated state agencies. These agencies are not subject to the appropriations processes; they constitute the massive hidden layer of state government.

Until very recently, legislators needed to review the state's annual Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) in order to analyze all state government spend. The CAFR contains a omnibus overview of state finance; however, no significant part of the legislative process incorporates this document. In fact, in my experience, a majority of lawmakers either do not realize this document exists, or rarely provide it with more than a cursory review.

This year, the state Senate negotiated for the right to incorporate financial details normally found in the CAFR into the appropriations document.

For the first time, the "state budget" actually provides an omnibus accounting of most state finance. This action elevates the importance of the state's hidden spending in the minds of lawmakers; it represents the latest in a series of efforts by the Senate to enhance legislative purview of the billions of spend not previously accounted for by the legislative process.

In 2012, both the Senate and House formed special appropriations committees designed to provide purview over the non-appropriated agencies as the first important step in putting the Legislature into its role as guardian of taxpayer dollars. While the House later eliminated its appropriations committee, the Senate has stayed true to this vision and successfully negotiated for and won the right to incorporate most state finances within the "state budget."

That said, it's important to qualify this observation by noting that the Senate waived the important budget transparency rules which would have given legislators, the press, and the public time to review this year's budget before it received a vote in the House.

This unfortunate action significantly undermines the Senate's ability to advance a budget transparency narrative, a narrative which would otherwise be spot on. The Senate won the right to publish a transparent budget while simultaneously waiving the very rules which allow for public review of the budget prior to a vote.

This transparency conundrum sends a mixed message to the public; however, the incorporation of the comprehensive financial data does represent one of the few significant and meaningful positives from this year's state budget process.

About Rep. Jason Murphey

State Representative Jason Murphey (R-Guthrie) represents House District 31. He is Chairman of the Government Modernization Committee. He may be reached via e-mail at: Jason.Murphey@hd31.org

Other Articles By Rep. Jason Murphey

No to Gas Tax Increase

You may have recently seen news stories describing the impending introduction of a gas tax increase....

Giving Away Absolute Power For One Year

Many taxpayers believe the Legislature operates as described in American Government class. They...

Vote Walking

Each year, members of the Legislature cast votes impacting almost every aspect of life: from public...

Did the State Adopt Common Core Again?

I have received numerous emails regarding the states recent action to adopt new English and math...

My Case for Budget Reform

As I considered an article regarding the need for a reform of the state budget process, I recalled a...

The Senate Transparency Conundrum

Regular readers of the states appropriations bill were greeted by something new as they opened...

The Next Abandonment of Principle

The first warning sign happened last year on April 2nd of 2014. By a 20-3 vote, a legislative...

Other Constitution Columnists

Theodore King

The Federal Page for Winter 2017
Buchanan's TriumphOn December 5, 1980, National Review held its 25th anniversary dinner at the...

Steve Byas

Civil Asset Forfeiture and Oklahoma's State Constitution
It is remarkable how when one challenges the practice of government agents taking private property,...

Rep. Jason Murphey

No to Gas Tax Increase
You may have recently seen news stories describing the impending introduction of a gas tax increase....

John Michener

Roe v. Wade: Comply or Defy?
January 22 marked forty-four years since the Supreme Court of the United States (the Court)...

Brandon Dutcher

Nearly 4 in 10 Oklahoma Teachers Would Choose Private or Home Schooling for Their Own Children
When asked whats the best educational choice for their own children, one might expect near unanimity...

Andrew K. Boyle

The Curious Case of Scott Pruitt
Its always fun to revisit stories from the recent past. Part of the responsibilities incumbent on...

In The News

Constitution Staff

Special Election for State House District 28
State Rep. Tom Newell (R-Seminole) announced his resignation from the Oklahoma House of...

Constitution Staff

Trump Nominates Pruitt to Lead EPA
Were certainly going to draw a line in the sand. This is the worst-case scenario when it comes to...

Constitution Staff

Voters Decide State Questions
Voters found seven state questions on the November election ballot. Three of the measures SQ 779,...

Constitution Staff

GOP Rides to Victory in 2016 Election
The 2016 General Election was a resounding success for the Republican Party in Oklahoma. The GOP...

Constitution Staff

2018 Race for Governor
Oklahoma voters in presidential election years see what is known as the short ballot. But, in the...

Constitution Columnists

Theodore King

The Federal Page for Winter 2017
Buchanan's TriumphOn December 5, 1980, National Review held its 25th anniversary dinner at the...

Steve Byas

Civil Asset Forfeiture and Oklahoma's State Constitution
It is remarkable how when one challenges the practice of government agents taking private property,...

Rep. Jason Murphey

No to Gas Tax Increase
You may have recently seen news stories describing the impending introduction of a gas tax increase....

© 2001 - 2009 The Oklahoma Constitution, all rights reserved.
Contact the Oklahoma Constitution by calling 405-366-1125 or emailing okconsti@aol.com
Content Management System (CMS) provided by WebTeks2010.com - Guthrie, Oklahoma.