Inappropriate Raises

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

With everyone tightening their belts this holiday season and so many public employees concerned about agency budget cuts, I was disheartened to see how some outgoing statewide officials chose to spend taxpayer dollars. It seems that the attorney general, state auditor, and superintendent of public instruction decided to give high-level members of their staff raises this fiscal year on top of raises in fiscal year 2010. Both the attorney general and superintendent of public instruction decided not to run for re-election and will not have to answer to voters for their actions.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson gave four staff members’ raises in fiscal year 2011 after they received significant raises (ranging from 10 to 43 percent) in fiscal year 2010. State Auditor Sean Burrage handed out eight raises this fiscal year, including one to an individual who had received a 23 percent raise in fiscal year 2010. Most disappointing of all were raises in the Oklahoma Department of Education. Though too numerous to list here, I would give as an example the individual who received a 56.8 percent raise in fiscal year 2010 followed by a second raise this fiscal year.

In contrast, a few statewide officials showed some restraint. Labor Commissioner Lloyd Fields passed out only three raises this fiscal year and the highest raise given in fiscal year 2010 was 6.67 percent. Treasurer Scott Meacham did not give raises this fiscal year.

It is an abuse of the system when politicians who are leaving office irresponsibility give out large raises just before terming out in January. This is a waste of your tax dollars. I'm a big believer in rewarding people for hard work, but large raises on top of raises in tight budget years are clearly inappropriate.

Lastly, I would like to congratulate two area high schools for representing our district with pride and honor at the state championship for their respective classes. Congratulations to Hennessey High School Coach Shannon Watford, his staff, and his players, as they captured their first-ever state championship in Class 2A. Fantastic job, Eagles! Congratulations are also in order to Coach Jeff Myers, his staff, and the Kingfisher Yellowjackets, for being state runner-up in Class 3A. It was an incredible game that came down to the wire. I’m very proud of both teams.

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

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