The Edmond Sun

Opinion

January 7, 2013

Committee assignments cast light on spending

OKLA. CITY — Last week, members of the House of Representatives received their committee appointments for the next two years. I have been appointed to chair the Government Modernization Committee, and will be a member of the States’ Rights and Transportation committees, and the Budget Subcommittee on Non-Appropriated Agencies.

I have frequently written about the work of the Government Modernization Committee and the effort to shrink the size of government while making it more transparent. This year, the committee will consider numerous measures to do just that, and I look forward to writing about this in the next few months. I believe the committee will advance an aggressive plan that will build on its successes of the past four years. The effort to get a handle on the monstrosity that is state government hasn’t been an easy one, but we are making progress every year. This year will continue those reforms.

I wrote last week about the plan to virtually eliminate structurally deficient bridges from the state highway system. I am a big advocate of sound transportation policy and will again serve on the Transportation Committee. This issue is one of the most important to the Guthrie and Edmond constituency, and I intend to sponsor legislation designed to streamline and modernize the process by which transportation funding is channeled to local government.

I also have written about the two new committees designed to assert the importance of states’ rights and create legislative purview of the billions of dollars of federal spending that is channeled through state government each year. Last year, incoming House leadership signaled its intention to start planning for the day when the federal government must cut its budget in order to deal with the federal debt and deficit.

The Legislature appropriates about $6.5 billion each year — but state government channels about $8 billion that originates from federal sources. Much of this money tends to avoid legislative purview since the Legislature isn’t appropriating the money. As the reader can see, actual legislative purview doesn’t seem to occur for much of the total state government spend of nearly $17 billion.

In an effort to provide the necessary legislative purview, the House has created the States’ Rights Committee and the Budget Subcommittee on Non-Appropriated Agencies. As a member on both committees, it is my hope that both committees take their charge seriously and provide extensive oversight.

In addition to overseeing the federal spend, the Budget Subcommittee on Non-Appropriated Agencies will have purview over those state agencies that exist because they charge fees to a certain segment of society while not taking legislative appropriations. These agencies have historically escaped purview because a) they don’t receive appropriations and b) because they hire contract lobbyists who may work against efforts to modernize and hold them accountable.

Now we have an official process for asking questions of and potentially exposing the inefficiencies of these agencies and the nearly $1 billion cost to the Oklahoma economy that occurs due to the fees that these agencies charge.

I am looking forward to the next two years and the opportunity to make a difference by serving on these four committees.

REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via email at jason.murphey@okhouse.gov, on Facebook at facebook.com/JasonMurphey and Twitter.com/JWMurphey.

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Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results