OCPA adjunct scholar Andrew Spiropoulos has long made the point that Oklahoma's state government is dysfunctional ("nothing gets done and nobody is responsible"). He revisited the topic yesterday in The Journal Record. "We tie down our executive officials with a dizzying array of boards and commissions that act like leeches on our public circulatory system," he writes, "because we are unwilling to trust either the individuals the people have chosen to do their jobs well or the people to throw these officials out if they have performed poorly."
Exhibit A is the state Board of Education, which yesterday took no action against the Tulsa-area school boards which are openly flouting state law. If you're not going to enforce the law, what's your function? Nothing gets done and nobody is responsible.
One reason New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is so effective (aside from the fact that he's an out-and-out stud) is that in New Jersey, the chief executive actually has, like, power and stuff. It's time for Oklahoma's executive branch to start executing. In February the state Legislature and Gov. Mary Fallin should strip the state Board of Education of its managerial powers and let our elected officials get about the business of doing their jobs.
Interestingly, the board also made the decision to "interpret" the Attorney General's opinion directing them to move $35 million to OTRS, something they should have done in the beginning. Instead, they decided to adopt a scheme, mostly at the behest of the fat-cat attorney who serves on the board, to only give OTRS $18 million. This stagecraft was a set up to an action they took later in the meeting to make supplemental budget requests. OTRS' executive director called their original move last year "fiscally irresponsible" and this latest decision compounds that irresponsibility with defiance of the attorney general. They were even told by their own general counsel at the meeting that they should NOT disregard the AG's opinion. They openly discussed attempting to throw the matter into the courts as a "technique" to put pressure on the legislature -- further complicating the issue and costing taxpayers more money. This was a source of great amusement and snide side jokes. This board is an extra layer of bureaucracy consisting of unelected political appointees who simply stand in the way of progress.
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