August 24, 2012

Two Oklahoma Lawmakers Call for End of Taxpayer Dollars to Non-profits


The following news release was distributed August 24, 2012 by the Oklahoma House of Representatives Media Division.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft
Phone: (405) 557-7343
State Rep. Sally Kern
Phone: (405) 557-7348

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Reps. Paul Wesselhoft and Sally Kern this week delivered a letter to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin asking her to block tax dollars that would go to non-profit organizations.

“We do not think tax dollars should go to non-profit organizations. I believe this spending is unethical and, if not illegal, at least contrary to the spirit of the Oklahoma Constitution,” said Wesselhoft, R-Moore.

“Although we approved appropriations to various agencies, we have found that some of that money will be spent on non-profit organizations,” said Kern, R-Oklahoma City. “When lawmakers pass a state budget, they intend that the money be spent by the agency appropriately. Tax dollars are intended to fund government programs, not other organizations. I think it is a terrible practice and we are calling for it to stop.”

Some examples of non-profit entities receiving taxpayer dollars include Clem McSpadden Roping ($50,000 over a two-year period), the IPRA National Finals Rodeo ($50,000 over a two-year period); the Rural Enterprise Institute ($2.25 million over a three-year period), the OK Expo ($2 million for fiscal year 2013), the Jenks Aquarium ($40,000 for fiscal year 2013) and the Red Earth Day Festival ($25,000 for fiscal year 2013).

The two lawmakers have learned that portions of appropriations to four state agencies totaling a little over $12 million in fiscal year 2013 are intended to be spent on non-profits. The agencies are the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation, the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

“Twelve million dollars is a lot of money going to non-profits in a manner that could be much more transparent,” said Wesselhoft. “The figure of $12 million is consistent over the past couple of years. These ‘pass-through dollars’ are inappropriate.”

The two lawmakers said enquiries for more specific information can be made to their offices and that they have a document listing some 36 non-profit entities receiving taxpayer dollars.

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