Sen. Randy Brogdon forges bipartisan transparency coalition

Republican state Sen. Randy Brogdon of Owasso has forged a bipartisan coalition in support of Senate Bill 1633, his proposal dubbed the School District Transparency Act. The measure passed the Appropriations Education Subcommittee today (February 3) with one dissenting vote. Brogdon has support from the state’s largest labor union and from the top elected education official in the state, who is a Democrat.

In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Brogdon described himself as a “rock-solid liberty” legislator willing to work, “without compromising core principles” with all those wanting to advance good public policy. State Senate staff concluded, in a bill summary, that although SB1633 “would necessitate some additional workfore requirements, there would be no fiscal impact.” The staff analysis concluded an existing state Department of Education website will allow for implementation of the bill’s provisions.

The Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) sent a statement to members of the Appropriations Committee stating the group’s support for SB 1633. “We believe that voters have a right to see where the money given to school districts is spent. It is imperative that voters are confident that money is being allocated properly. The passage of Senate Bill 1633 will allow for that transparency of expenditure information and instill confidence in both the legislature and the school system.”

Brogdon also said Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett has endorsed the measure. He told CapitolBeatOK the OEA approached him about supporting the concept last year, “perhaps because of my prior involvement in working on transparency issues.” In a press release today, Brogdon states his belief the new measure builds on the Taxpayer Transparency Act he shepherded to passage in 2007.  Now that the website envisioned in that legislation is in place, he said, “it is time to move to the next phase.  My legislation would require all school district spending to be online so that everyone can see how Oklahoma’s education dollars are spent.”

The measure could move next to the full Appropriations Committee, and/or to the Senate Education committee. In his formal statement on the bill, Brogdon concluded, “Greater transparency will help all of us see more clearly how public funds are being used in every district in the state, and whether there might be a better way to utilize those same funds in specific areas that can help our schools get more bang for the buck.”