As the outrage in Bell, California continues, a similar situation is brewing in Oklahoma. A one-word change in the state law is fueling controversy and has Oklahoma in a financial bind. The language discussing county worker salaries was altered from “may pay the maximum allowed by law” to “shall pay the maximum allowed by law.”
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Brian Maughan, an Oklahoma County Commissioner, joined Varney and Co. to discuss how this happened. “Legislators put this through with about 50 other bills,” said Maughan. “They had this inserted in that conference report with virtually no time for any of the legislators to read it before it was voted on.”
Although the bill does not go into effect until November, one county commissioner jumped the gun and raised his salary, as well as those of the county’s other elected officials to the highest amount permitted, triggering outrage.
“In some of the larger counties, this could increase the salaries by $4,000 a year on top of their already six figure salaries,” Maughan explained. “In particular, some of the smaller counties where the salaries are based on population, they can actually be facing severe financial problems because they simply don’t have the money to make it already with this economic downturn.”
The law allows county officials to pay their employees anything, as long as it is less than their own. Money spent on the increase in salary is in lieu of other management services.