The Edmond Sun


November 12, 2013

The rest of the story about big pay hikes

GUTHRIE — Oklahomans are shocked and disappointed as press accounts describe massive pay raises being rapidly handed out to state agency executives. In some cases those raises have amounted to more than $40,000 per year.

What follows are the behind-the-scenes details of this maddening saga that you may not have read about in the papers.

The raises didn’t just suddenly occur overnight. They have been long in the making as agency officials and taxpayer-funded lobbyists have convinced legislators to change the laws to make the outlandish pay raises possible. As early as two years ago these individuals were hard at work figuring out how to get the raises.

Regular readers may recall my article from a year ago ( within which I wrote about the passage but subsequent veto of the House Bill 3152, the first iteration of the pay raise bill. I described a lawmaker who slow played the vote then feigned disappointment at missing the vote while an agency director who was in the gallery signaled her appreciation for his cowardice. I also spoke of the courage of the governor who vetoed the pay raise bill even though only four of us out of the 149 legislators voted against the proposal.

Agency officials and their lobbyists were extremely disappointed and upset at the governor’s veto. They weren’t about to stop trying. They came back this year and presented a second pay raise proposal. They defined the proposal as a moderate, common-sense and reasonable compromise designed to meet the concerns of fiscal conservatives. I think a lot of legislators believed them. Although, 10 of us voted no this time.

If it is any comfort to the taxpayer, he should know that most if not all legislators never intended this horrible abuse.

I think all, including the authors, believed the information served to them by bureaucrats and lobbyists. They thought they were supporting a common sense compromise that wasn’t as egregious as the bill from last year.

They were wrong! We now know this resulted in the looting of the treasury. A review of the transparency data at likely will reveal that numerous agency heads received raises and the full extent of the abuse has yet to be realized by the press.

Over past years, as fiscal conservatives have come into power in Oklahoma government, lobbyists and bureaucrats have become experts at presenting big government spending policies like this one through a filter that makes them appear to be conservative policies. They painstakingly lull legislators into a weird alternate reality in which terrible policy appears to be good policy.

In this case they hoodwinked lawmakers into removing the salary caps on agency executives. In the weird reality that is the Capitol during legislative session, a very bad vote seemed like a reasonable vote.

Fortunately, due to public outrage, I can only hope this serves as a much needed wake up call that opens the eyes of the deceived legislators.

Multiple bills will be filed within just a few weeks that would reverse the pay raise policy. Numerous legislators voted for the pay raise bill without realizing what it did. They will eagerly earn their redemption by voting for the reversal.

In the meantime, agency directors should and must return the large pay raises.

Finally, it is far past time for the Legislature to put a stop to the incredibly inappropriate practice by which state agencies are spending taxpayer dollars hiring contract lobbyists.

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


Text Only
  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

  • Putting Oklahoma parents in charge

    Oklahoma’s public schools serve many children very well. Still, for various reasons, some students’ needs are better met in private schools, in virtual schools or elsewhere. That is why two state lawmakers have introduced legislation to give parents debit cards, literally, to shop for the educational services that work best for their children.

    April 11, 2014

  • Israelis, Palestinians are losing their chance

    Developments in the Middle East suggest that prospects of success for the Israeli-Palestinian talks, to which Secretary of State John Kerry has devoted countless hours and trips, are weakening.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teens might trade naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 11, 2014

  • Tax deadline and no reform in sight

    The annual tax filing deadline, which comes next Tuesday, provides a good opportunity for tax reform advocates to decry the current law’s increasing complexity and inequities, and to urge enactment of a simpler, fairer system.

    April 10, 2014


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.

     View Results