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Desperately needing oversight



Consider this: $18 million for a Rocketplane that never took off; $27 million for Great Plains Airlines that went bankrupt.

Where is the outrage? Where is the oversight?

Regardless of what party is in control, wasteful projects are not using our money for its intended purpose, and needed services are cut because we have a shortfall.

This last year, we were "bailed out" by the federal stimulus money. Next year " or the year after that " we may not be as lucky.

No matter who serves as speaker of the House, president pro tem of the Senate or in the Governor's Mansion, we need to make sure every dollar of our money is spent properly.

Buzzwords like zero-based budgeting fall on deaf ears, and no one is watching our money. In fact, the former state auditor was in office for many years before being convicted on bribery charges. Who knows how much money was wasted under his watch?

The state's legislative budget process is broken, and the remedy is having our part-time legislators only be in session once every other year. To allow for this, some budget process rules and procedures would have to be scrapped, but they are serving no real purpose.

It is tiresome how the projections agencies count upon to hire and plan come up short, causing consternation for the process. Every year, it seems the budget gets put off until the very end of session, meaning some things get through in the rush that wouldn't be so lucky with the regular, intended open light of day.

With the ability to spend weeks " or even months " to go over every line in the budget with the input of every agency, real oversight would be achieved. Plus, there would be time to figure out if the possible budget items need to increase, decrease, stay the same or be zeroed out.

Yes, it would probably be necessary to make sure the designated budget year not coincide with an election year to avoid the possible flux of elective politics. And, yes, the amount of money would have to increase because the budget would be taking care of two years instead of one.

In the off-budget year, there would have to be allowances in place for emergencies, and in the rare case, supplemental funds could be passed by a two-thirds majority.

Oversight does not mean simply asking the head of a state agency how much more money they need each year. Oversight means holding those not elected to be as responsible " if not more so " than those elected. We must stop the too-frequent "oops" decisions where we throw away $18 million.

Oversight means having the ability to cut budgets, but also to build a budget with those actually working in those programs and agencies. Oversight means holding feet to the fire, to act as if the money was coming out of pocket.

Yes, changing the way we run our budget is inconvenient and will make our elected leaders uncomfortable. I'm sure the budget chairs in the House and Senate would have a problem with it.

But, our tax dollars deserve to be properly accounted for and protected. No longer should it be that the rush to end the session is paramount to doing what is right.

Loveless, a former state Senate candidate, is the CEO of Phoenix Consulting and the business manager for Loveless Orthopedic and Custom Footwear.

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