Administrative costs targeted by Gov. Mary Fallin

Governor Mary Fallin issued two separate executive orders dealing with the administrative costs consolidation of college campuses and public school districts.

A third order calls on agencies to stop spending state money on swag and unnecessary promotional items, which could save the state up to $58 million a year.

Fallin, who called a special session to raise as much as a billion dollars in new taxes, vetoed a compromise bill passed by the House and Senate that would have averted a budget shortfall. The Legislature adjourned but now Fallin will call a second special session in another attempt to raise taxes – perhaps on cigarettes, gasoline and energy production.

“As governor, I have requested the state auditor and inspector audit different state agencies 22 times,” Fallin said.

Executive Order 2017-39 directs the state Board of Education, with the assistance of the state superintendent of public instruction, to compile a list by Sept. 1, 2018, of every public school district that spends less than 60 percent of its budget on instructional expenditures. School districts designated for administrative costs consolidation or annexation are to be notified by July 1, 2019, with the districts required to submit plans for administrative costs consolidation, such as human resources, purchasing, accounting, technology and maintenance, or annexation by Jan. 1, 2020. Implementation will begin with the 2020-21 school year.

“Oklahomans support additional dollars going into the classrooms, and we have to make sure those dollars make it there,” Fallin said. “According to a 2014 report, Oklahoma ranked sixth among states in the percentage of funds spent on district administration. This is unacceptable.”

Executive Order 2017-37 directs that directors of state agencies and departments not purchase nonessential items, or so-called swag items, such as pens, cups, trophies, bumper stickers and book bags. A bill proposing to eliminate such items was introduced during the past special session, but failed to win final legislative approval.

Fallin said part of the problem is the hundreds of advisory boards, commissions and agencies that were created by law over the past several decades, and the lack of power given to the governor in the state constitution ties the governor’s hands to make timely and needed changes. “As a result, we’re left for the most part with an inefficient, slow-responding form of government,” Fallin said.

Fallin said she will again ask lawmakers next year to pass legislation allowing voters to give more power to future governors by putting them in charge of appointing key agency directors.