Is it too much to ask that our state legislators not be COMPLETELY ignorant about the subjects they are pontificating on? Oklahoma State Representative George Faught (R-Muskogee), Chairman of the House Administrative Rules and Government Oversight Committee, wants to kill the Oklahoma State Employees Charitable Contribution Campaign (OSECCC). Last year, state employees contributed about $613,000 to local and international charities through the campaign. Among the reasons Chairman Faught gave for killing the campaign in a story in the Oklahoman (http://newsok.com/article/3652912) were:
- Planned Parenthood is a member agency of United Way. This is patently false and easily verifiable with a phone call or a casual glance at United Way’s Annual Report. In fact, Planned Parenthood hasn’t been a member agency of United Way since the early ‘80’s – Thirty years ago!
- It costs the state money. Every year, the state contracts with a local nonprofit to manage the state employee campaign. In Oklahoma, the contracted nonprofit is United Way of Metro Oklahoma City. The costs United Way incurs managing the campaign (vetting participating agencies, preparing materials, recruiting volunteers, soliciting employees, receiving cash, check, and payroll deduction contributions, distributing contributed funds to each of the recipient nonprofits monthly, conducting an independent CPA audit of all funds received and distributed, and preparing reports for the State) are all paid for by the donors themselves through an administrative fee capped by legislation at 12-15%. The actual cost incurred by the state to provide oversight for all this is minimal.
- United Way decides “which charitable organizations have access to state employees.” Another patently false assertion that could have been easily disproven. The state legislation requires that participating charities meet certain standards (they have to be tax exempt, they have to be registered, they have to be incorporated, they have to be audited, they have to provide their tax returns for review, they have to have low administrative overhead costs, they have to demonstrate a certain level of public support, etc. etc.) The state campaign committee, not United Way, decides who meets these criteria and who doesn’t, which determines who gets in and who doesn’t.
- Assisting state employees to make donations to the charity(ies) of their choice is not a “core function” of state government. Well, at least the representative came up with SOMEthing that’s at least arguable rather than stone wrong. I suppose allowing employees to support local faith-based and nonprofit organizations isn’t a CORE function of state government… like taking care of homeless children is, or providing healthcare to the poor is, or preparing for and responding to disasters is, or making sure our children are educated is, or helping at-risk youth get on the straight and narrow is, or preventing chronic disease is, or providing adoption services is, or taking care of the developmentally disabled is, or treating people with addictions is, or intervening in domestic violence is, or providing medications to the mentally ill is, or providing character education to youth is, or recruiting and supporting foster families is….
WAIT A MINUTE! Why, the nonprofits supported by the Oklahoma State Employee Charitable Contribution Campaign do ALL those “core functions” of state government! And they do it by relying on public donations (even donations from state employees!). I’d even bet they might do it as cheaply, as efficiently, as compassionately, as effectively as our vaunted state government does, with voluntarily donated funds!
Representative Faught will end up COSTING the state money if the faith-based and nonprofit charities supported by the OSECCC aren’t able to perform these “core functions” that the state can’t do on its own.
Restore the state charitable campaign. Save the state some money.