In this week’s edition of Capitol Report on News9, the CBS News affiliate in Oklahoma City, journalists Patrick B. McGuigan and Alex Cameron surveyed intensifying critical scrutiny of government agencies. McGuigan noted the state House has, in coordination with the new Investigation Committee, launched a toll-free number where state employees (promised confidentiality) can report instances of waste, fraud and abuse to legislators.
The panel itself was launched after Gov. Mary Fallin’s controversial veto of the state budget enacted during the special legislative session. Fallin herself notched up the intensity of critical steps aimed at government spending through three executive orders, with one aimed to pressure for consolidation of administrative functions in common education (grades PK-12). In dialogue with the News9 reporter, McGuigan said whether it is “the dreaded C-word [consolidation]” or pressing for efficiencies, there is room for broad change in state governance.
If enough savings can be captured – and the $30 million mis-directed at the state Health Department is “not chump change,” McGuigan pointed out – broad tax increases might not be forthcoming. The segment closed with discussion of stories aggregated at CapitolBeatOK.com (“one a day”) documenting that states across America are facing the same or similar problems challenging the Oklahoma’s education system – teacher shortages, complaints about pay, low morale, and student disruptions of the class time, and among other issues.