Analysis: Fallin’s order, and conservative doubts
Published: November 27th, 2017
OKLAHOMA CITY — Furious Republican responses to Gov. Mary Fallin’s surprising veto of the “Plan B” budget passed in the special session preceded the chief executive’s announcement of executive orders to force administrative cost cuts in higher education and in K-12 education. A third order, she said, aims to end government agency purchases of so-called “swag” and promotional items.
While many analysts assume the executive actions are constitutional, conservative academic (and journalist) Steve Byas is an informed critic of that interpretation. In a post at the Sooner Politics blog, he wrote the school consolidation mandate “may or may not be good public policy. However, the governor has no legal authority to consolidate schools in this state.”
Three Republican legislators say a consolidation push is fine, but insist the mis-allocations uncovered at the state Department of Health make the case for vigorous examinations of agency spending patterns.
In a press release, state Reps. Kevin Calvey, R-Oklahoma City, Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, and Tom Gann, R–Inola, “invited whistleblowers among state employee and vendors to email them with tips about waste, fraud and misuse of funds in all state agencies.” In their joint release, the trio said, “Our many hardworking and diligent state employees and vendors are as concerned about wasteful state spending as most Oklahomans. We encourage these whistleblowers to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and/or firstname.lastname@example.org with tips on exposing wasteful spending. We imagine the House Special Investigative Committee as a whole will also invite such tips, and we look forward to working with other members of the committee.”
Calvey, an attorney who had top security clearance during his service in the U.S. Army, guaranteed whistleblowers protection. “”I will protect the privacy of all whistleblowers,” hesaid. “That will be my priority concern, and I’m confident my colleagues will also keep sources confidential.”
Cleveland and Gann gave similar assurances.
While a constituency for tax increases clearly exists, the strength of limited government conservatism in the Republican ranks indicates there is a strong base for pressing toward the “right-sizing” of government explicitly promised in GOP campaigns since 2010 — but never, in the views of many, delivered.