Thursday, September 01, 2016

Auditor eviction drama grows

The drama continues to grow over plans to permanently evict the State Auditor's office from the State Capitol building as a result of ongoing renovations, with Governor Mary Fallin and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman commenting on the situation.

Gov. Fallin spoke with The Oklahoman about the issue:
“Certainly I think it is important for a state elected official to have an office in the Capitol,” Fallin said. Fallin said she was unaware of a plan to move the auditor's office out of the Capitol building until she read about it in the newspaper.
John Estus, spokesman for OMES, previously said "“The decision [to evict the Auditor's office] was made jointly by the House speaker's office, Senate pro tem's office and our office with assistance from architects and engineers working on the restoration project." While House Speaker Jeff Hickman issued a statement supporting the move, Senate President Brian Bingman had a different reaction:
Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman expressed surprise Wednesday that the state auditor had been told that his office would be forced to permanently move from the state Capitol, which is undergoing a $245 million renovation. “I'm not aware of any final decision that, ‘Hey, this agency has got to move out,'” Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said Wednesday. “I don't think I'm aware of anything that's been finalized.”
Rep. Mark McBride (R-Moore), a member of the State Capitol Repair Expenditure Oversight Committee, said the following: "The Capitol Repair Oversight Committee has never discussed moving the State Auditor from the Capitol. Neither has the Oklahoma House of Representatives ever held any discussions on moving the State Auditor from the Capitol. No legislative member that I have talked to has any recollection of ever discussing this move. I am very disappointed in the way this decision was made. This is a discussion that not only should have included all invested parties in the restoration of the Capitol Building, but also any subsequent decision should have been made using the proper protocol and procedures."

Blogger David Van Risseghem points out that for most of Oklahoma's history, the State Capitol was large enough to house most or all of the state's agencies, but now, government growth has made that impossible, even though Republicans who espouse cutting government and bureaucracy are in full control of Oklahoma's government.

Jones seems to think he'll win the fight. Yesterday, he told the Edmond Kiwanis Club, "A little kink in their plans is that Article 6 of the Constitution says that these certain constitutional offices will be housed at the seat of government. And there’s an Attorney General’s opinion that says the seat of government is the state Capitol."


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