Coburn: Pay Teachers Better, But Higher Taxes With No Oversight Leads To Unaccountable Government

We should pay teachers better, but tax increases without oversight won’t work
By Dr. Tom Coburn

I have read with interest and reflection the opinion pieces and letters to the editor about the Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite effort to collect signatures for a referendum on the tax increases passed by the state Legislature.

I wholeheartedly agree we need to have our teachers at salaries that attract the best and the brightest to educate our most valuable resource, our children. We should have the highest-paid teachers in our area of the country and the most accountable.
But what happened in the Legislature will cause Oklahoma to fail, not succeed. The Legislature has raised over $1.1 billion in new taxes since 2015. But what they have not done is look at every state agency and ask what is the goal of each, how do they spend their money and are they transparent with the resources they get.

Bureaucracies by their very nature are not efficient. Their goal is survival and expansion and most are not mission-focused, but survival-focused. That is just human nature.

Take, for example, the recent news about the Oklahoma Department of Health. A commissioner’s slush fund? The firing of 188 state personnel because the accounting in the agency was so poor it did not know where the money was and the limitations on it? Then $30 million in additional appropriations that were not needed.

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