The Edmond Sun

January 24, 2014

Continuity of government and your money

Rep. Lewis Moore
Special to The Sun

ARCADIA — The people of Oklahoma delegated various responsibilities to government, which include their health, safety and general welfare.

Last year almost 40 percent of our state budget came from the federal government to the tune of roughly $8.2 billion. This has put Oklahoma at risk to the sometimes violent swings of the national government policy in Washington, D.C. But what would happen if those violent policy swings were permanent? What would happen if Washington, D.C., could no longer fund 40 percent of our budget? I don’t think this is an unreasonable question.

Last year, the legislature addressed this question by asking each state agency to create a budget that would anticipate a 25 percent decrease in federal funding. Unfortunately HB 1917 introduced by Speaker T.W. Shannon, which passed by wide margins in the House and Senate, was vetoed by the governor.

I believe it is important to prepare for any number of threats to our state by providing continuity of government and preparing individuals to take care of themselves, their families, neighbors and businesses.

The problem is big; the federal government is broke and broken. At this moment, we are at a staggering $17 trillion in debt.

Last year alone the federal government took in a record $2.8 trillion but still needed to borrow almost a trillion dollars still just to fund day-to-day operations. Remember, that’s borrowing $1 trillion over a 365 day period. I think we can all agree this is a problem and it is unsustainable.  

What we don’t know is how much money we Oklahomans send Washington, D.C., each year. We are unclear how much money the federal government spends in overhead expenses each year. Add to that the state Legislature doesn’t even know how much money is actually sent to Oklahoma each year.

Oklahomans and legislators should know that before appropriating money to state agencies; that’s our job and why we are elected.

This raises many troubling questions as a legislator.

Why doesn’t federal matching money go through the regular appropriations process for everyone to see? Second, do state agencies have fund balances or carryover money from previous budgets? If so where do they hold fund balances between budget years? What accountability, oversight or transparency protects taxpayer money?

Next, does any of the federal money received by Oklahoma consist of “borrowed” money? Is the money taken from another state or the federal reserve private bank? If so, this money and lack of appropriation may skirt several sections of the Oklahoma Constitution such as Sections X-16, X-23, V-33 and V-55.

Last, why is the federal government returning money to the state? Shouldn’t we be sending them only what is needed as per the Enumerated Powers of Article I., Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution? Do we have so much money we can afford to pay the much higher cost of doing business in Washington, D.C., and accept far less money in return, than if we had kept it? Let’s do the work ourselves and keep Oklahomans' money in Oklahoma.   

REP. LEWIS MOORE, R-Arcadia, represents House District 96.