State Capitol, Oklahoma City – The November elections that put Republicans in charge of the Oklahoma State Senate for the first time in state history will result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost savings for Oklahoma taxpayers, according to a preliminary estimate by the Senate’s staff.
“We are very pleased that we will be able to implement significant savings for the taxpayers,” stated Senate President Pro Tempore Designate Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City. “As public servants it is important that we serve as good stewards of the taxpayers’ money by improving efficiency and finding savings.”
According to preliminary estimates, net payroll savings will be approximately $400,000 as the State Senate returns to the traditional number of leadership staff for the Majority and Minority parties that existed prior to the adoption of a 2006 power-sharing agreement. That agreement provided both parties with equal budgets for leadership staff, although the Republicans regularly operated under-budget.
For the 2009 legislative session, the Democrat leader will receive funding for an executive assistant and two leadership staff – the same number of staff provided to the Republican leader prior to the 2006 elections. This will result in savings compared to the 2008 legislative session, when the Democrat leader employed an executive assistant plus 7 leadership staff. 4 of the 7 Democrat leadership staff members have already retired or secured other employment. As in the past, the Democrat leader will determine who is hired or retained within the Democrats’ Minority leadership staff structure.
Other payroll savings will come by returning to a three-tiered pay scale for executive assistants to state senators. The pay scale includes a base salary with slightly higher salaries for assistants to senators who chair a committee or serve in leadership positions.
Most executive assistants will not see a pay reduction, although executive assistants who have continued to receive substantially higher salaries after leaving the employment of a former president pro tempore will now be paid within the new pay scale.
Coffee said the Senate will also implement reforms that should result in additional savings, such as the electronic filing of administrative rules and streamlining the paperwork requirements for executive nominees who are subject to Senate confirmation.
The Senate will release the specific details about the cost savings when the precise amount of savings is known, he said.
AREAS OF COST SAVINGS: