Welcome to Oklahoma politics.
This is the exact intersection of incompetence, ignorance and iniquitous accounting.
This session featured a Republican supermajority in the legislature bailing out the State Department of Health after the agency went through painful layoffs due to being $30 million short.
A Grand Jury released its findings today that the agency was not insolvent, it is not insolvent, and it never was insolvent. No one knows why the agency laid off dozens of employees - especially when some of the employees served in federally funded roles that were never affected by state funds that everyone thought were missing that were actually there all along.
This is likely the tip of a big dirty iceberg. Oklahoma's governmental agencies have been under attack from a legislature that has been so hellbent on cutting funding that it would sweep any funds agencies had in their coffers to avoid appropriate revenue collections.
Because of these damaging legislative policies, agency heads - at least at the Department of Health and probably at several other agencies - began a practice of hiding funds to be able to insure liquidity even in the face of more draconian cuts. Somehow, through a series of changes in agency leadership, the Department of Health didn't realize it was laying off good employees while sitting on piles of cash.
You can't tell which parts of the tragedy were intentional and which were simply gross incompetence.
The Oklahoma Department of Health was run by hillbillies so brazen that they hid tens of millions of dollars in a slush fund and so ignorant that they forgot where they buried the money in the back yard.
They were criminal masterminds one day and rubes the next. It is so ridiculous, it is hard to believe.
There is plenty of blame to go around. Let's investigate that claim
• State Auditor Gary Jones. Jones' audits must entail asking the department heads how things are going and moving along after they say "Fine." I know money was hidden, but $30 million dollars won't fit in a guy's wallet. Jones says the reports were falsified. Guess what, that's why you do an audit - to find falsification in reports. This is a disqualifying revelation for Jones. His gubernatorial pursuit should end today. There is no way Oklahomans can have any confidence in his leadership moving forward.
• Mary Fallin. Fallin's eight years in the Governor's mansion is the rotten vine that produced this fruit. Agency heads knew their budgets were going to be raided once or twice during a year because of more bad policies leading to more revenue failures. They either had to suffer under the bad policies or hide money. They got away with hiding $30 million. This is Fallin's legacy.
• Charles McCall. The Speaker of the House announced Thursday that he was "disappointed" that the Grand Jury failed to return indictments. Crocodile tears flowed because leaders from the department lied to the legislators. Once again, Chuck, maybe if the legislature didn't establish a budget and then take back the money every year, there would never have been an incentive to hide money from them. You know what the real crime is here? That Chucky and his buddies spend so much time protecting oil and gas pals who work in and around the legislature and passing ridiculous social policies that embarrass the state that they haven't gotten around to making anything these agency heads did illegal. If McCall wanted there to be indictments for actions like these, perhaps his legislature could enact laws that covered these situations.
• The rest of the legislature. It's time to reboot the system. This is what happens when supermajorities full of lackeys who blindly vote with leadership to stay part of the "cool kids club" make and enforce the rules.
The state had to redraw the dry erase board again that says "Oklahoma has gone Zero days without a national embarrassment."
Bad policies encouraged bad actions. Bad audits didn't uncover the bad actions. More bad policies kept anyone from being punished for bad actions.
The circle is complete.
I would say Oklahomans deserve better, but these are the people we elected, so I guess we really don't.
We bought the ticket, now we get to ride the ride.