Given Oklahoma's ongoing budget crisis, Senator Frank Shurden wants a careful look at how much is being spent on professional service contracts and whether some of those could be eliminated to save state dollars.
"Over the past decade we've seen more and more of these contracts for a variety of services. In 1994, when David Walters was Governor, the state was spending $135 million a year on these contracts. After Governor Keating had been in office for eight years, that figure had jumped to more than $795 million," said Senator Shurden, noting those costs were above and beyond what the government already spends on salaries for state workers.
The professional service contracts cover everything imaginable, from road maintenance to clerical work. Yet Shurden said these are contracts that do not have to go through the bidding process.
"I'm not saying that these are not legitimate expenses. They may well be. But because of the increases we've seen over the years and the budget crisis we're faced with, I think it is high time to take another look. I think there's more than a chance that we could find some 'fat.' That's money we could direct elsewhere, like education or public safety," said Shurden, D-Henryetta.
Senator Shurden said he'd like to see a full review of all professional service contracts when the legislative session reconvenes in February.
"I hope to work with our new governor, Brad Henry and the legislative leadership on these reviews. I'm sure they'll agree that with the budget crisis we're facing, we can't afford to leave any stone unturned," said Shurden.