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 with Lt. Governor Todd Lamb, who has recently wrapped up a tour of all 77 counties in less than 77 days. Lamb discusses what Oklahomans are communicating back to government, including water issues.
Lamb discusses the importance of having GOP leadership in state governments making a difference in the leadership of this country via state sovereignty and the 10th Amendment. Lamb also talks about GOP advances in Oklahoma state government.
Lamb is also a former Secret Service agent and identifies with law enforcement. He just attended a Department of Pubic Safety awards ceremony and speaks to the need for first responders in the most recent severe weather event.
He also talks about how the budget is looking.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister has selected Oklahoma Army National Guard Lt. Col. (Ret) Lance Nelson to serve as chief of staff for the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE).
Nelson, whose Army National Guard retirement takes effect April 1, brings more than 30 years of leadership experience to his new post.
Serving in Iraq with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Nelson managed and executed a $93 million budget for the Iraq Government. He also developed a cost analysis that, in turn, saved the U.S. government $72 million per year. In his most recent role as Antiterrorism and Force Protection Officer, Nelson analyzed potential threats and ensured the protection of 34 facilities and more than 7,000 soldiers and their families across the state.
Hofmeister said Nelson’s leadership and organizational skills are critical in strengthening OSDE’s effectiveness as a service-oriented agency.
“Lt. Col. Nelson is exactly what the Oklahoma State Department of Education needs,” she said. “He has recruited, organized and trained thousands of military personnel. He has managed and executed multimillion dollar budgets. Lance’s stalwart leadership and professionalism will be instrumental in elevating OSDE to a higher standard of excellence.”
Nelson, who began OSDE on Monday, said he is eager to take on the challenges of this new chapter.
“I am very excited to have an opportunity to continue my service to the great State of Oklahoma. I cannot think of a more important task than serving on Superintendent Hofmeister’s team and being able to share her passion and determination toward education and the future leaders of Oklahoma.”
Nelson has a master’s of business administration from American Military University. He and his wife, Jacquelyn, live in Stillwater. They have three children, ages 20, 18 and 13. The youngest two currently attend Stillwater Public Schools.
The Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women will hold its biennial Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony Thursday, April 9, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr.
Admission to the event is free and open to the public.
The Women’s Hall of Fame, established by Governor George Nigh in 1982, recognizes women who have made a significant contribution to Oklahoma, serve or have served as role models to other Oklahoma women, have championed women’s issues, or have served as public policy advocates for issues important to women.
This year’s honorees are:
- La Donna Harris, Native American leader;
- Mary Mélon, president and chief executive officer of The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools and former publisher of The Journal Record newspaper;
- Dr. Marion Paden, vice president for enrollment and student services at Oklahoma City Community College;
- Thelma Parks, civil rights, education and community leader;
- Dr. Ramona Paul (posthumous), education leader;
- Patty Roloff, former Oklahoma City 89ers baseball club owner;
- Avis Scaramucci, entrepreneur and civic leader.
The McCarville Report will soon add a familiar and trusted voice: Reid Mullins, veteran radio talk show host, begins a series of Reid Mullins Reports in which he’ll interview newsmakers.
With more than a decade of on-air interview experience (hundreds of interviews), and an intense interest in Oklahoma politics and government, Reid is an ideal fit.
Andrew W. Griffin of Red Dirt Report is among admirers. He has written this about Reid:
“A moderate, pleasant voice in an increasingly-shrill political talk environment, talk-jock Mullins is a class act and radio veteran of nearly three decades. He’s a local guy who loves this area and was unfairly and unceremoniously booted last year by the increasingly awful management at KTOK and Clear Channel.
“Mullins had this reporter on several political segments on his KTOK program and for that we were always grateful. Our most fond memory was calling into Mullins’s show from the snowy environs of Lawrence, Massachusetts. This was when your humble correspondent was up there in 2010, covering the Senate race between Martha Coakley and Scott Brown, following the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy.
“In a piece (link is external) at The McCarville Report, it notes that Mullins plans to feature political figures on a local, state and national level as well as experts in everything from energy to health care.”
State Treasurer Ken Miller today announced an initiative to bring an innovative, web-based financial education program to every high school student across the state through a partnership with education technology leader EverFi. The Treasurer’s office will partner with local businesses and financial institutions to bring this program to local students at no cost to schools or taxpayers.
“We are committed to improving the economic well-being of our state, and this starts with empowering young people to understand how the economy works and how to achieve financial security in their own lives,” said Treasurer Miller. “EverFi is the leader in providing web-based financial education to consumers and students nationwide, and we are proud to bring their cutting-edge curriculum to students across Oklahoma in partnership with local businesses.”
A FINRA-funded study released in February 2015 found that students who received rigorous financial education in high school saw increased credit scores and decreased chance of credit delinquency as young adults, compared to their peers who did not receive financial education. The study went on to say that these positive outcomes are most pronounced when rigorous financial education is mandated in a school setting.The EverFi curriculum is implemented on a co-curricular basis, providing teachers with a valuable tool to use with students in a classroom setting.
“Treasurer Miller is a true leader in financial education and we’re honored to be working alongside him,” said EverFi Founder and CEO Tom Davidson. “Public-private partnerships like these are key to bringing innovative learning opportunities to students at no cost to the school system. As a native Oklahoman, I’m proud that EverFi will join a growing number of local partners to impact students across my home state.”
The web-based program uses the latest in new media technology – simulations, gaming and adaptive-pathing – to bring complex financial concepts to life for today’s digital generation. EverFi’s high school course offers over six hours of programming with ten units in a variety of financial topics including credit scores, insurance, credit cards, student loans, mortgages, taxes, stocks, savings, 401k’s and other critical concepts that map to national financial literacy standards.
EverFi’s activation team will manage all school integration, teacher training and professional development to bring this course statewide. More than 50,000 teachers across the U.S. have used this innovative curriculum in their classrooms.
Backed by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Twitter founder Evan Williams, and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, EverFi is focused on teaching, assessing, and certifying K-12 and college students in the critical skills they need for life. Current partners providing EverFi’s financial literacy curriculum in Oklahoma are Bank of Oklahoma, American National Bank, First Bethany Bank & Trust, First United Bank, ONB Bank, Republic Bank & Trust, Vision Bank and F&M Bank of Guthrie.
If you are a member of the Oklahoma business or financial institution community seeking to bring critical financial education resources to local schools, please contact Jeff Ringer, Director of Constituent Engagement, Office of Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller at 405-521-4512 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Beth Carroll, Senior Vice President of National Partnerships at EverFi at 678-640-1617 or email@example.com.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt Tuesday announced the hiring of new First Assistant Attorney General Trent Shores, who was most recently an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma where he also served as the Tribal Liaison and Anti-Human Trafficking Coordinator.
“Trent is an exceptional attorney, and he will be a tremendous asset to all Oklahomans and our office’s mission to uphold the rule of law,” Pruitt said. “We are fortunate to welcome a dedicated public servant like Trent to the Attorney General’s Office, and I look forward to his counsel as First Assistant.”
In his capacity as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Shores prosecuted human trafficking and child exploitation crimes, organized crime and drug trafficking organizations and corrupt public officials, as well as violent and white collar crimes committed in Indian Country.
Prior to his role in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Shores served as the Deputy Director of the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Tribal Justice in Washington and participated in multinational negotiations at the United Nations as a representative of the United States. Shores also previously served in the administration of former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating as a public policy specialist.
“I am honored Attorney General Pruitt asked me to serve as First Assistant,” Shores said. “In this new role, I look forward to serving the people of Oklahoma and fulfilling the benchmark the Attorney General has set for this office.”
Shores graduated with the Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Vanderbilt University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Oklahoma. Shores is a faculty member of the National Judicial College and a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Federal decisions affecting federal and state income tax return processing timing contributed to February General Revenue Fund (GRF) collections far exceeding the official estimate and prior year collections.
As state government’s main operating fund, the GRF is the key indicator of state government’s fiscal status and the predominant funding source for the annual state budget. GRF collections, reported by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES), are revenues that remain for the appropriated state budget after rebates, refunds and mandatory apportionments. Gross collections, reported by the State Treasurer, are all revenues collected by the state prior to rebates, refunds and mandatory apportionments.
February GRF collections of $301.5 million were $28.6 million, or 10.5 percent, above the official estimate upon which the fiscal year 2015 appropriated state budget is based and $30.8 million, or 11.4 percent, above prior year collections. Total GRF collections for the first eight months of FY 2015 were $3.7 billion, which is $71.5 million, or 2 percent, above the estimate and $205.2 million, or 5.9 percent, above the prior year.
Higher than expected collections and lower than expected refunds contributed to February income tax collections exceeding the estimate by 266.8 percent and prior year collections by 87.5 percent. A major contributor to the significant monthly income tax collection difference is an Internal Revenue Service decision causing state and federal income tax returns to be processed at slightly different times than they were last year, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
“Tax return timing anomalies aside, it was helpful to have a strong February ahead of the fiscal uncertainty the state faces heading into next year,” said Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information Technology Preston L. Doerflinger. “Lest anyone get too excited, we have 611 million reasons not to read too much into one good revenue month. Agencies should continue exercising tight fiscal controls in the current year while planning for reduced appropriations next year.”
Doerflinger is director of OMES, which issues the monthly GRF reports.
Major tax categories in February contributed the following amounts to the GRF:
- Total income tax collections of $58.2 million were $42.3 million, or 266.8 percent, above the estimate and $27.1 million, or 87.5 percent, above the prior year.
Individual income tax collections of $57.3 million were $41.5 million, or 261.5 percent, above the estimate and $26.3 million, or 84.9 percent, above the prior year.
Corporate income tax collections of $827,968 were 100 percent above the estimate and the prior year, as none were deposited into the GRF in February last year and all collections were expected to be paid out in rebates in the current month.
- Sales tax collections of $159 million were $0.4 million, or 0.3 percent, above the estimate and $7.4 million, or 4.9 percent, above the prior year.
- Gross production tax collections of $30.3 million were $2.4 million, or 7.2 percent, below the estimate and $4.5 million, or 13 percent, below the prior year.
Oil collections of $22.1 million were $2.9 million, or 15.4 percent, above the estimate and $8.5 million, or 27.8 percent, below the prior year.
Gas collections of $8.2 million were $5.3 million, or 39.3 percent, below the estimate and $4 million, or 95.3 percent, above the prior year.
- Motor vehicle tax collections of $14.8 million were $0.4 million, 2.8 percent, below the estimate and $2.3 million, or 13.4 percent, below the prior year.
- Other revenue collections of $39.2 million were $11.3 million, or 22.4 percent, below the estimate and $3.2 million or 8.8 percent, above the prior year.
Monthly revenue tables are available on the OMES website: http://www.ok.gov/OSF/News/February_2015_Financial_Report_Data_Tables.html
Retired Oklahoma County District Judge Kenneth Watson has been appointed to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.
He is an appointee of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice John F. Reif on Friday said Watson’s service as a lawyer and judge, experience performing criminal defense work and standing in the community made him the perfect choice.
Watson, who retired from the bench late last year, is one of the founding members of the Oklahoma City Black Lawyers Association.
“I was very concerned that the Pardon and Parole Board reflect the racial diversity of not only the population, but of the prison population presenting their appeals for paroles to the board to be a racially balanced entity,” Reif said.
The governor has three appointees to the board, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals each have one.
Oklahoma’s economy, as reflected in February Gross Receipts to the Treasury, is showing both positive and negative effects of low oil prices with sales tax collections up and gross production collections down, State Treasurer Ken Miller said today.
“Low oil prices were a double-edged sword for the Oklahoma economy during this past month, with gross production receipts falling by 24 percent and sales tax collections rising by more than five percent,” he said. “It appears Oklahomans used the money saved at the gas pump to buy other items, which led to the higher sales tax figures.”
February total gross receipts topped $845 million, up by more than $27 million or 3.3 percent from the same month of last year. Sales tax collections grew by almost $18 million compared to the prior year, while gross production taxes dropped by almost $17 million from last February.
Income tax collections rose during the month, topping receipts from the prior year by more than $23 million or 9.3 percent. Both personal and corporate income tax receipts were higher than in February of last year.
Motor vehicle tax collections slipped slightly during the month, down by one-half of one percent.
Gross production collections in February were the lowest in almost two-and-a-half years, at just over $53 million. The last time monthly gross production receipts were lower was in September 2012. February collections reflect oil field production from December, when West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices averaged $59.29 per barrel.
The February Business Conditions Index for Oklahoma points to continued growth in the state economy during the next three to six months. The February survey shows Oklahoma with a rating of 53.7, compared to January’s rate of 52. Numbers above 50 indicate anticipated economic expansion.
The most recent unemployment figure for Oklahoma is from December, when the jobless rate was set at 4.2 percent. That compared to a national rate of 5.6 percent. The state unemployment rate for January and February will be released later this month.
The revenue report for February shows gross collections at $845.1 million, up $27.02 million or 3.3 percent from February 2014.
Gross income tax collections, a combination of personal and corporate income taxes, generated $269.65 million, an increase of $23.02 million or 9.3 percent from the previous February.
Personal income tax collections for the month are $253.99 million, up $15.64 million or 6.6 percent from the prior year. Corporate collections are $15.67 million, an increase of $7.38 or 89 percent. Wide variances in monthly corporate collections are not uncommon.
Sales tax collections, including remittances on behalf of cities and counties, total $353.17 million in February. That is $17.9 million or 5.3 percent above February 2014.
Gross production taxes on oil and natural gas generated $53.09 million in February, a decrease of $16.74 million or 24 percent from last February. Compared to January reports, gross production collections are down by $2.71 million or 4.9 percent.
Motor vehicle taxes produced $58.7 million, down by $310,000 or 0.5 percent from the prior year.
Other collections, consisting of about 60 different sources including taxes on fuel, tobacco, and alcoholic beverages, produced $110.48 million during the month. That is $3.15 million or 2.9 percent more than last February.
Between March 2014 and February 2015, gross revenue totals $12.1 billion. That is $570.39 million or 4.9 percent higher than collections from the previous 12-month period.
Gross income taxes generated $4.32 billion for the period, reflecting an increase of $186.71 million or 4.5 percent from the prior 12 months.
Personal income tax collections total $3.73 billion, up by $184.18 million or 5.2 percent from the March 2013 to February 2014 period. Corporate collections are $584.94 million for the period, an increase of $2.53 million or 0.4 percent over the previous 12 months.
Sales taxes for the period generated $4.5 billion, an increase of $214.81 million or five percent from the prior 12 months.
Oil and gas gross production tax collections brought in $859.16 million during the 12 months, up by $51.32 million or 6.4 percent from the previous period.
Motor vehicle collections total $775.17 million for the period. This is an increase of $26.69 million or 3.6 percent from the trailing 12 months.
Other sources generated $1.65 billion, up $90.87 million or 5.8 percent from the previous 12 months.