The Oklahoman Editorial

LEGISLATIVE leaders apparently weren’t thrilled with the idea of giving the state’s auditor and inspector the resources and the latitude to run a magnifying glass over state agencies.

Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones had hoped voters could decide in November whether to amend the state constitution to allow his office to initiate performance audits of state agencies. Currently such audits must be requested by the governor, the agency’s director or the Legislature. As a result, they rarely happen.

That will continue to be the case. A House joint resolution (and a companion in the Senate) requesting a vote of the people recently died quietly without being heard on the House floor. If leadership had backed the bill, it almost certainly would have gone to the full body for consideration.

A survey in January by found that nearly 75 percent of likely Oklahoma voters favored Jones’ idea. He proposed paying for the performance audits through dedication of one-tenth of 1 percent of state sales tax revenue, about $2 million per year.

There may have been concerns that this change would give the auditor too much power. But if state agencies are spending taxpayer money properly, they should welcome the scrutiny.

Lawmakers are usually more than willing to let voters decide issues. It’s disappointing they chose not to this time around.

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