How State Agencies Can Help

How State Agencies Can Help

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Though the economy could pick up and state revenue return to normal levels, there is little indication that will be the case next year. State agencies are currently seeing automatic cuts as the revenue shortfall continues. Even if the Rainy Day funds are used and lawmakers do all they can to preserve certain funding streams, these agencies are going to have to streamline services if revenue continues to be short of what is projected.

One suggestion to state agencies is that they discontinue the practice of sending glossy, unsolicited mailers. Significant money is spent printing and mailing paper versions of newsletters, journals and other publications. By publishing this information online or mailing it only on request, taxpayer dollars could be preserved for more important services. Examples of publications include the Oklahoma Historical Society’s “Mistletoe Leaves” publication and the many mailings the Health Department sends unsolicited to healthcare professionals. I would like to commend the Department of Public Safety for having the foresight to cancel their distribution of driver’s manuals to those soon to be taking the driving test.

Moving printed information to an online format represents a type of improved use of technology in state government. State agencies must pursue a variety of cost-saving measures to help address the revenue shortfall and technology is the key. The right technological tool can increase a worker’s capacity to accomplish tasks in a shorter time, an important solution to the increase in the need for a particular service that agencies sometimes see.

Increased work capacity brings me to the issue of administrative staff. I believe it is likely that in many of these state agencies, there are administrative staff positions that could be cut. Salaries are highest at the top and so it makes sense to look first to these positions for consolidation.

Though lawmakers will certainly weigh in on how agencies should spend their money, those agencies may still face some hard decisions if revenue levels fall below what lawmakers base their budget on. The ability of state agencies to prioritize their individual budgets is critical. I previously touched on what I think was a failing of the Department of Human Services to prioritize correctly when they cut the senior nutrition program. Hopefully, other agencies will make more prudent choices.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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