House Speaker Charles McCall today appointed members to the oversight committee for the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT), a recently created legislative office to evaluate agency budgets and programs for lawmakers.
Speaker McCall named House Appropriations and Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace as co-chair of the LOFT Oversight Committee. In addition, he appointed the following members to the Committee:
State Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, Co-Vice Chair
State Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City
State Rep. Mike Osburn, R-Edmond
State Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa
State Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City
State Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa
LOFT was created, effective immediately, when Gov. Stitt signed Senate Bill 1 into law. Senate Bill 1, by House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, creates LOFT within the existing Legislative Service Bureau (LSB). The LSB is a shared office between the House of Representatives and the Senate that currently has limited functions. LOFT will be similar to the federal Government Accountability Office within Congress.
LOFT will have an oversight committee made up of seven members of the House and seven members of the Senate. All members and the co-chairs of the committee are to be appointed by the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, with at least two members from each chamber being members of the minority party.
"Taxpayers expect lawmakers to ensure their dollars are being spent efficiently, without waste and as they were intended," said Speaker McCall, R-Atoka. "LOFT will give the Legislature an office that works for lawmakers, not the state agencies, and give us confidence that the information and analysis it provides our members will be unbiased, timely and accurate. The members I have chosen to serve Oklahomans on the LOFT Oversight Committee have shown the temperament and willingness to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work that digging through agency budgets and complex agency programs requires."
LOFT would employ financial examiners who would routinely audit agency budgets and spending and evaluate the effectiveness of agency programs and services. The office would then provide reports to the House and Senate.
"LOFT has been a priority for House Republicans for several years, and I am glad we finally got this legislation passed and are ready to utilize these new resources to benefit citizens," said Co-Chair Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston. "Having worked on the state appropriated budget for three years now, I can tell you it can be difficult at times to get accurate information from the agencies, and there have been times when some agencies have provided different information to the House and Senate. As lawmakers, we have to get useful information quickly in order to make good budgeting decisions on behalf of the Oklahomans that sent us here. LOFT will help us do that."
Senate Bill 1 requires agencies, boards and commissions to turn over to LOFT upon request all records, documents and budgets and make personnel available. LOFT will also have subpoena and investigation authority.
The Legislature appropriated $1.7 million to fund LOFT in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget that just passed.