Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is asking state officials not to appropriate operations funds for his office in the coming fiscal year, according to a letter sent Monday.
In the letter addressed to Gov. Mary Fallin, Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger, Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman and President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, Pruitt said his office has worked with decreasing appropriated funds for OAG operations by as much as 12 percent since he took office in 2011.
“In effect, we have been able to do more with less,” Pruitt said.
The OAG is responsible for 75 agencies, boards and commissions statewide. It was allotted $14 million in appropriations last year, with around $6.4 million going to the operations funds.
Pruitt cited the budget shortfall the facing the state for the 2017 fiscal year as one of the reasons he’s asking state officials for the decrease in funding. Oklahoma is facing a near billion dollar shortfall along with a declared revenue failure.
Some state officials have warned of a possible second revenue failure before the beginning of the next fiscal year. FY2017 begins July 1 of this year.
“I charged my team with to find ways to reduce expenses while maintaining service levels…” Pruitt said in the letter.
When asked if the OAG was really able save enough to offset last year’s funding, Pruitt’s spokesperson Aaron Cooper said, “[T]he AG’s Office has other sources of non-appropriated revenue that will help us make up the difference. As the AG stated in the letter, the agency was able to evaluate cost-savings, efficiencies and other sources of revenues and determine it is able to defer support from state appropriations for the coming fiscal year.”
Pruitt did ask, however, for lawmakers to continue funds for state shelters, legal aid and Safe Oklahoma, a grant program that provides funding for small law enforcement agencies in the state.
This request comes on the heels of the AG’s decision to hire an independent auditor, despite notification from the state’s auditor that the OAG was in line for an audit from that office.
According to the Oklahoma constitution, agencies are subject to mandatory audits from the state’s auditor. That audit was supposed to take place this month, after questions were raised about spending at the OAG’s office by the state auditor.