Rep. Jason Murphey
A few weeks ago, in her State of the State speech, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin spent a considerable amount of time describing what I believe to be one of the most, if not the most, important ongoing government modernization initiatives.
Fallin described the performance.ok.gov website and the newly-created performance expectations for state government agencies.
You might recall my article of last week in which I described Oklahoma state government as the perfect multi-tentacled, big-government monster. You can only imagine the challenge facing an Oklahoma Governor who is charged by the people of Oklahoma with the mission of containing this monster and holding government accountable but who in all reality simply does not have the tools or authority to do so. State government is too big and unnecessarily siloed within far too many different agencies which are controlled by boards of unelected bureaucrats who have no natural incentive to be responsive to the people of Oklahoma.
The people can elect their Governor of choice but that person does not have the power to see that the peoples’ desire for efficient government is substantially reflected in any immediate way.
Performance.ok.gov provides the Governor of Oklahoma with a new and powerful tool. Using the system, the Governor and the Governor’s cabinet officers may set performance expectations for state agencies, publish those expectations for all to see, and chart the ongoing progress of state agencies in meeting or not meeting the expectations.
Additionally, the new modernization laws enable the Governor to measure the efficiency or inefficiency of very specific processes which are commonly shared amongst state agencies. Based on this measurement, the Governor has the authority to mitigate those processes which are inefficient and costly to the taxpayer. This puts real teeth into the Governor’s ability to make government more efficient.
Not only does this new system allow the Governor and the public to hold the agencies accountable, but it lets the taxpayers hold the Governor to account as well. For example, if you will navigate to performance.ok.gov you can see the expectations which the Governor has established and see whether those are expectations with which you agree.
The system is still in it’s infancy. It must become much more robust.
For example, visitors to the site should be allowed to download the raw data sets which back up the metrics. This will provide credibility to the system and allow the media, policy organizations and the taxpayers to analyze government performance. The findings of these groups will provide policy makers with insights into government performance which were never before possible.
The number of metrics must also continue to grow and at some point in the not-too-distant future should include direct feedback from the taxpayers. After all, the taxpayers are the consumers of the government service and their voice should be heard in measuring the quality of service provided.
I would suggest that if this reform is completely implemented, in connection with the ongoing agency and process consolidations, the vote of the people of Oklahoma will become much more meaningful. When Oklahomans elect the governors of the future, they will do so with the knowledge that they are electing someone who will be able to truly carry out the voters’ mandate for accountability and efficiency.
Reid Mullins Reports: OK2A, pro-gun rights organization, announced that its Board of Directors has unanimously expressed its support for HB1749, which would halt automatic payroll deductions by state agencies for employee dues in any “public employee association or organization or professional organization that…collectively bargains on behalf of its membership.”
This bill would not affect an organization’s ability to collect dues from its members, it simply removes the state from the business of supporting private organizations by handling (and using tax dollars to pay for) the collection of that private organization’s membership dues. In the case of the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), this politically leftist organization has made clear its stance against gun owners’ rights. Some of OEA’s dues money is then passed up the line to the National Education Association (NEA), which calls for “strict prescriptive regulations” of handguns and a total ban on “military-style semiautomatic assault weapons” (NEA resolution I-34, p.91). It is an improper function of government to act as bookkeeper for a private organization and even more improper to support an organization that is so clearly anti-constitutional.
State senators rebuked groups for social media bullying Thursday during heated debate over a bill that would prohibit thousands of Oklahoma educators from paying union dues by state payroll deduction.
In an unusual split among conservatives, Republican state Sen. Greg Treat of Oklahoma City stood on the Senate floor and demanded an apology from the politically conservative Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs for a tweet that “abused the character of one of my colleagues.”
The tweet, put out on social media by Trent England, OCPA’s vice president of strategic initiatives, took a shot at state Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, for coming out against the bill favored by the majority of the Senate members of his party.
The tweet told Smalley not to worry because the National Education Association and Planned Parenthood “(have) got your back.”
Smalley was upset by the personal nature of the attack.
“For me, I wear a pearl on my lapel to symbolize the loss of my daughter last year,” Smalley said. “For anybody to insinuate that I support Planned Parenthood and the choice of birth is just ridiculous.”
OCPA quickly removed the tweet and apologized for its actions — not just to Smalley, but the entire Republican caucus.
All three candidates in the April 7 state Senate District 11 special election are expected to attend a League of Women Voters forum at 3 p.m. Saturday at Rudisill Regional Library, 1520 N. Hartford Ave.
State Rep. Kevin Matthews and community activists Regina Goodwin and Heather Nash are vying for the open seat in a winner-take-all Democratic primary. For more information go to bit.ly/1yfSfoy.
The leaders of the associations representing school administrators and suburban school districts offered comments regarding the recent passage of HB 1749 by the State Senate.
HB 1749, if signed into law, would prohibit public schools from offering voluntary payroll deductions to Oklahoma teachers to pay for membership dues in their professional associations.
“HB 1749 is a solution desperately seeking a problem. We agree with Senator Shortey that HB 1749 is ‘a poke in the eye’ of Oklahoma’s public school teachers. HB 1749 represents government overreach into the private and constitutionally protected decisions of public school teachers to affiliate with a professional association. HB 1749 is unnecessary in Oklahoma because we are a right to work state, and while certain groups may organize to represent the interests of their members, Oklahoma employers are never subject to the threat of strikes or organized walkouts.”
“Oklahoma teachers are hard-working, dedicated public servants who deserve our respect and support. HB 1749 is likely unconstitutional and, if signed into law, could expose our state to lawsuits that waste limited taxpayer resources. We ask that Governor Fallin veto HB 1749 and continue to work with parents and educators to address the real problems impacting student achievement; such as having a quality teacher for every student and realizing common sense testing for all students.”
Legislation aimed at eliminating payroll deductions for state teachers passed in the Senate today by a vote of 28-16, essentially blocking educators from paying their dues to the organizations that collectively bargains on their behalf directly out of their paychecks. Senator Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, voted no on HB 1749, calling the measure unfair to teachers.
“I’m disappointed that my party supported HB 1749, as it sends a disparaging message to our state educators,” said Shortey. “Oklahoma is facing a $600 million budget hole and teachers are likely to going to be asked to go yet another year or more without raises or adjustments. I refuse to support legislation that puts yet another hurdle in place for them to jump. They have one of the most challenging jobs in the world and to deny only their group the right to pay for their membership in the organization that is looking out for their best interests is just unacceptable.”
The bill does not exclude collective bargaining, but would prohibit teachers from choosing to have their union dues deducted directly from their paychecks. Other public employees like police and firefighters would not be affected by this legislation.
“If this bill ended all state payroll deductions, that would be have been a much more logical approach,” said Shortey. “However, as it stands now, HB 179 targets only teachers and basically punishes them for choosing to pay dues to the organization that benefits their professional interests. If we’re not going to eliminate similar payroll deduction options for other groups that participate in similar collective bargaining organizations, then we shouldn’t be blocking teachers from choosing to spend their hard-earned money as they see fit.”
Shortey says it’s not the state’s place to stipulate how a teacher chooses to spend their money, and as state lawmakers, it is unacceptable to treat one organization like teachers differently than any other.
“As I’ve said previously, I’d much rather put my arm around a teacher and tell them they’re doing a great job instead of poking them in the eye with more restrictions on how they choose to spend their salary,” said Shortey.
A group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives have issued a statement today after the recent termination of General Counsel Clay Bruner by the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma (ACCO).
The ACCO is currently under investigation by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) and the state Auditor’s Office following allegations of fund misappropriation.
Reps. Bobby Cleveland (R-Slaughterville), Lewis Moore (R-Edmond), Jason Murphey (R-Edmond), Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City), Travis Dunlap (R-Bartlesville) and Dan Fisher (R-El Reno) released the following statement:
“The action taken by ACCO to terminate Clay Bruner is both shocking and outrageous. Mr. Bruner blew the whistle on what he believed to be wrongdoing and the wasteful spending of public money. This has led to investigations by the State Auditor and Inspector and the Oklahoma County District Attorney.
“The public deserves to know how its funds are being spent. Transparency – not secrecy – should be the foreword of every entity transacting the public’s business. As legislators, we are offended by ACCO’s action to hire an attorney to write a twenty-page letter to the state Attorney General arguing against openness in government. The public’s trust in government has been badly eroded and actions firing those who have enough courage to speak out against wrongdoing further damages public confidence.
“ACCO’s precipitous and retaliatory action in terminating Mr. Bruner cannot be condoned.”
The Oklahoma Policy Institute today urged legislative approval of measures designed to increase voter participation.
In an email, the Institute’s leader wrote:
Last November, fewer than three in ten eligible Oklahoma voters went to the polls in the General Election. In close to two-thirds of the state, the winner for the House legislative seat had already been decided before November because only one candidate filed for office or the seat was decided in the party primary.
Last year’s election confirmed a pattern where Oklahoma has fallen to the bottom rungs in voter registration, voter turnout, election competitiveness, and other measures. These are all symptoms of what we have referred to as our “broken democracy.” (see below for information and resources on this issue)
Voting is a cornerstone of our representative democracy and a fundamental right. The good news is that sensible election reform measures that would make it easier for Oklahomans to vote and give us more choices at the ballot box stand a shot of becoming law this session. Over a dozen electoral reform bills were filed this session, and five important measures have made it out of the House or Senate and now await action in committees in the second chamber. These bills are:
- SB 313 (Sen. David Holt/Rep.Gary Banz): Allows for online voter registration. Rising generations of voters are simply not used to a world where simple tasks like registering to vote must be done on paper. As of February 2014, 14 states offer fully online voter registration and another five states offer limited online access. While moving to online registration will have some limited start-up costs, the state has already received federal funds that can be used for this purpose, and over time, moving to an online system will save money. Click here for a blog post on the subject. BILL STATUS: Passed the Senate 37-2 and has been referred to the Appropriations and Budget General Government Subcommittee
- SB 315 (Sen. David Holt/Rep. Elise Hall): Allows voters to opt for permanent absentee voter status. The state already allows for absentee voting, but a new application must be filed each and every election. Absentee voting is preferred by many with physical disabilities, limited transportation, or other obstacles, or who appreciate more time to study the ballot. Under SB 315, a voter can choose to receive all ballots by mail until they opt to cancel their absentee voter status or a ballot is returned as undeliverable. BILL STATUS: Passed the Senate 38-7 and has been referred to the House Rules Committee.
- SB 173 (Sen. Jack Fry/Rep. Gary Banz): Raises the cap on the number of absentee ballots a notary can sign from 20 to 100. BILL STATUS: Passed the Senate 25-17 and has been referred to the House Elections and Ethics Committee.
- HB 2181 (Speaker Jeff Hickman/ Sen. Marty Quinn): Lowers the threshold for the number of signatures needed to gain recognition as a political party to 1 percent of the total votes cast in the last Governor’election. Currently Oklahoma has one of the most restrictive ballot access laws in the nation, which has served to keep all but two parties off the ballot. BILL STATUS: Passed the House 90-0 and has been referred to the Senate Rules Comittee.
- SB 312 Sen. David Holt/Rep. John Echols: Consolidates election dates for state and local candidates for office to two dates in the spring and two dates in the fall. Currently, elections can be held almost monthly, which serves to drive down turnout. BILL STATUS: Passed the Senate 45-0 and has been referred to the House Elections and Ethics Committee.
If you support these measures, now is a great time to contact your legislators and let them know.
Click here for the Together OK Election Reform page with basic Talking Points for each of the above bills.
Click here to find your legislators.
If you’re a member of an organization that supports increased civic participation, it would be especially helpful if your organization weighed in by formally endorsing these measures, contacting legislators, and writing an op-ed or letter to your local newspaper. Please let OK Policy know if you have suggestions or information to share, or if we can be of any help (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thanks for your attention and commitment to strengthening Oklahoma’s democracy.