By Representative Jason Murphey
When asked to point out what I believe to be the most wasteful and inappropriate form of government spending, I can answer without hesitation. Without a doubt, it is the extremely inappropriate tendency of government agencies to hire private lobbying firms.
It’s a practice known as “taxpayer-funded lobbying,” or government paying to lobby government on behalf of government.
Imagine the plight of the CEO whose Board of Directors has made the shocking discovery that a division of the company has been paying outside agents to lobby another division of the same company and against the best interests of the customers of the company.
How could the CEO ever defend this practice? Of course this would never happen.
Unlike the business world, it has become acceptable for state government to silo itself off into inefficient, separate divisions that burn through taxpayer money while jockeying against one another.
The practice should be halted at once and the agencies that receive appropriations and that have hired lobbyists should receive an immediate and corresponding decreasing in appropriations.
Those agencies that do not receive appropriations, but still hire lobbyists, should be required to either lower their fees or submit the differential back to the state’s’ general fund.
Like me, you likely find this practice to be completely indefensible. You are probably also not happy that the Legislature is attempting to increase your taxes while the government is still significantly subsidising the private lobbying industry with its policy of taxpayer-funded lobbying.
You should know that I have on multiple occasions sponsored legislation to end this practice.
The proposal has always been rejected by the Legislature and this I know: as long as Oklahoma lawmakers can get away with raising taxes, they will likely continue to waste taxpayer funds on inappropriate expenditures such as subsidies to the private lobbying industry.
Absent legislative action, Oklahoma’s governor should follow the example of the governor of Arizona who recently issued an executive order to prevent many of their state government entities from hiring lobbyists.
It’s absolutely unconscionable to me that many of Oklahoma’s politicians are attempting to enact a 35% increase in your state gas tax while spending what appears to be an ever-increasing amount on private sector lobbyists.
You should never believe that state government needs more of your money. If they still have enough to spend on subsidising private lobbying firms, they do not need more from you!