The Edmond Sun

November 1, 2013

What’s in a mile?

By Mark Costello
Special to The Sun

OKLA. CITY — Every Oklahoman knows its 100 miles from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. It’s a drive that all of us have made at one point or a hundred. Well, my car’s odometer just rolled past 100,000 miles. You might wonder why that’s such an important benchmark for me. Well, for starters, the miles were logged on my personal vehicle and without taxpayer reimbursement. Those miles represent more than 450 speaking engagements across our great state since taking office in early 2011.

One of my first acts as labor commissioner was to turn down the state provided vehicle, send it back to the motor pool, and use my own private vehicle for state travel. I do not seek any reimbursement for gas, maintenance, tolls or insurance. It’s all out of my own pocket.

Prior to election to public office, I had created and built several technology businesses. The success of these private-sector entities rested on making a profitable bottom line. I ran my businesses with a very conservative attitude. I brought that same attitude into the state service. I believe the use of my personal vehicle in the performance of my duties is a benefit to the taxpayers, both in substance and by example.

For those with an adventuresome spirit, you could drive from the Arkansas state line near Broken Bow clear to Colorado via Hugo, Ardmore, Fredrick, up to Woodward and then on to Alva, Enid, Bartlesville and Bernice then head south to Sallisaw and Poteau, making a complete round trip of Oklahoma almost a hundred times! That’s a lot of windshield time with Oklahoma pastures and blue sky but worth every mile.

I know they’re anecdotal examples, but the truth of the matter is, my decision to buy a vehicle and use it for my elected job has saved Oklahoma taxpayers more than $50,000 during the past three years. I think that shows a business perspective on reducing the costs of government to the taxpayer.

It is my mission to demonstrate that government “right-sizing” is achievable and, most importantly, the right thing to do. I have focused my attention on best practices, the reallocation of resources to trim our budget, eliminated waste and save the taxpayers’ dollars. I can report that in my first year in office through streamlining and agency reform $415,383 was saved. We saved precious state resources by returning computers ordered by the previous administration, cut out-of-state travel and vacating a deputy commissioner and lawyer slots. Plus, I have converted our vehicle fleet to an in-house operation, and after the initial investment, generate a cash flow savings of $162,000 yearly.

Day in and day out as I travel our great state speaking the message of limited government, I reflect on my belief that for every dollar removed from the taxpayers’ pocket to fund excess and waste in state government is a dollar removed from private-sector job creation. Private-sector job creation is the key to retaining our next generation of Oklahomans in our state and that is a distance worth traveling.

LABOR COMMISSIONER Mark Costello, R-Edmond, may be reached via his website at