Oklahoma lawmakers are traveling to other states to attend meetings. To do so, our state must join certain organizations and we're paying for it.
This year alone, $571,509 of our money pays for dues toward just 8 organizations. Those funds come out of a joint House-Senate budget.
Lawmakers then attend various conferences in places like Chicago and Seattle. The topics are anything from energy to education. But then there are other organizations that are a little less obvious.
For example - The National Conference of State Legislatures. Its mission, "...to serve the legislators and staffs of the nation's 50 states."
Oklahoma's price tag to join: $141,551 a year. We asked the House Appropriations chair, what's the benefit of belonging to such a broad group?
"I think they're just up on the latest research in helping state and state legislatures and state governments throughout the nation in helping them develop some of the things they want to go forward," Rep. Earl Sears said.
We asked is belonging to all these organizations really worth more than half a million dollars?
"I think it's very beneficial of members that have attended on a regular basis," Rep. Sears said. "They've come back with new and fresh ideas that they think would enhance our state in funding and policy and day to day operations. What they think would be good for Oklahoma."
We're told Senators and House Members who wish to attend these conferences pay their own travel expenses.
Emergency Council $32,000
Council of State Governments $104,952
Southern Growth Policy Board Not Billed Yet
Education Commission of the States $60,930
Southern States Energy Board $29,261
National Conf. on Com. On Uniform St. Laws $28,620
Southern Regional Education Board $174,195
Interstate Compact on Educ. Ops. Military Children Not Billed Yet