Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin spent time during the 2011 legislative session asking lawmakers to approve cost-saving consolidation measures. She wasn’t alone.
A number of governors took the same course this year as they sought to deal with budgets considerably smaller than in years past. As was the case in Oklahoma, results were mixed.
Late in the session, Fallin finally saw three of her proposals get to her desk in the form of approved legislation. One will consolidate the state’s information technology services, another modernizes the state’s vendor payment system and the third places four state agencies under the authority of the state finance director.
Stateline.org says “an unusually large” number of governors, most of them newly elected, have merged agencies or are considering doing so. John Thomasian with the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, told the website that the trend nationally has been to create larger agencies overseen by directors who answer to the governor.
In Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has backed legislation that makes it easier for municipalities to merge.
Nationally, referendums on city-county mergers have only been approved about one-fourth of the time in the past 100 years. The last one was in Louisville, Ky., in 2000. But fiscal concerns are forcing state and local officials to explore cost-saving options.
These are only likely to continue. Certainly they should, as efforts to rein in state and local government spending are long overdue.
The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Okla. (June 13)