Audit hurts ‘austerity’ claims about Oklahoma state spending

ONE service provided by Oklahoma’s multi-county grand jury and state auditor’s review of the Health Department’s finances is that it undermined a talking point too often blindly accepted as fact: That most, if not all, state agencies have been “cut to the bone.” The investigative audit report on the Health Department shows how that claim can rely on rhetorical sleight-of-hand.

The audit reveals, “Although the agency claimed that the current financial ‘crisis’ is due in part to decreasing revenues, that claim does not reflect the full picture.”

Auditors determined the money directly appropriated to the Health Department by the Legislature had been cut by $7 million between the 2011 and 2017 budget years, but those cuts were more than offset by $20 million in increased non-appropriated revenue during that same period.

“In summary, total agency revenues increased by $13 million and total overall expenditures increased by $15 million,” the audit revealed.

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