Lawmakers: cut waste instead of raising taxes

State Reps. Tom Gann, R-Inola, and Rick West, R-Heavener, are calling on Governor Mary Fallin’s administration to abandon its drive for tax increases and to instead return their focus to eliminating the many costly inefficiencies in state government.

The representatives said they are alarmed at the findings of last week’s legislative hearing by the House Government Modernization Committee. The representatives asked for the hearing after state employees began informing them of costly and wasteful inefficiencies within a key state purchasing contract.

Testimony to the committee was provided by individuals from a variety of state agencies and revealed the following findings:

  • State agencies are not taking advantage of savings opportunities available through a key state purchasing contract; and
  • Other agencies are forced to use a massive purchasing contract that appears to be costing the agencies money (state purchasing officials have indicated a plan to re-negotiate this contract);
  • A year-over-year increase of more than $100,000 in the Department of Education’s appropriation is being spent on the Department’s propensity for making color copies instead of the black and white copies utilized by the previous administration;
  • A review of the Department of Corrections found $150,000 in savings opportunities that could be realized through very basic reforms in the management of department assets. One state vendor testified that there are a number Department of Corrections’ assets that no one appears to be responsible for — including a 60-inch Wii entertainment system and numerous computers that have not been used in months; and
  • Some state officials appear to have an attitude of “it’s not our money so we don’t care” – this according to a vendor who testified of the many savings opportunities.

“After this hearing and with the breaking news of the alleged fiscal mismanagement at the Department of Health, there is no doubt that the executive branch’s consuming focus on tax raises is taking them away from their foremost responsibility: streamlining and making state government is efficient,” said Gann, the vice-chair of the committee.

“I’ve already had a number of state employee constituents explain this waste and show me the costly inefficiencies of state government. We need to let these employees do their job to save the taxpayers money, and that’s why we asked for this hearing,” West said. “This is just the start. The chairman of the Government Modernization Committee has ensured me that he will allow us to continue exposing these inefficiencies with more hearings like this one when the legislative session gets under way next spring.”

The representatives said they are going to continue to monitor the re-negotiation of the costly state purchasing contract, the implementation of the Department of Correction’s reform plan and the other issues raised during today’s hearing.