In a recently brokered deal between the Legislative leaders & Governor Stitt's office; 5 of our state agencies will be restructured to bring more direct accountability to the people.
The legislature currently has little effect on how the 5 agencies operate. An annual appropriation is made each year, but very little 'line-item' directives are imposed. Some of these agencies have other funding sources. the federal govt. is a major source of healthcare funding, and ODMHSAS leases out much of their state hospital capacity to corporate contractors, rather than operating the hospitals to full capacity, in-house.
The deal between the governor & legislature will also gives review & termination powers to the legislature, but only when a super-majority votes 'no confidence'. It's essentially a process similar to impeachment.
Here are the other 4 current commissioners/directors
The fundamental reforms boil down to language like this..
"The Commissioner shall be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate and shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor and may be removed or replaced without cause. Compensation for the Commissioner shall be determined by the Governor."
The legislative leadership produced this poster to highlight the reforms and the specific legislation which is being promoted as the language which addresses each agency being reformed.
Last year, the legislature & governor fundamentally overhauled the Dept. of Health, in the wake of their funding & management scandal, where $30 million with unaccounted for and an emergency special session was needed to correct the mismanagement.
Here are the enacting bills:
SB456 - SB457 - HB2479 - HB2480 - HB2483
Here's another example..
Mental health advocates have said that appeals to the agency have brought no meaningful response. In fact, Commissioner Terri White was held in contempt of court in recent years for keeping a severely ill person in a county jail for 6 months after a judge ordered the man to be cared for in a psychiatric hospital.
The Board of ODMHSAS is almost entirely from the OKC metro area, and the commissioner admits that Tulsa is the most underserved, yet she has not taken corrective measures in 2 years since that admission. In fact, the administrator of the tiny state mental hospital facility in Tulsa said "we have plenty of beds." I pressed the matter directly, citing the 500+ men in the Tulsa County jail whom the jail admits were only there because of their severe illness. Administrator Leah Price responded; "It wouldn't matter how many beds we have. They would always be full."
Commissioner White disavows that view, but has done nothing to remedy the situation.
The Tulsa Center for Behavioral Health was not even intended to be a state-run facility, but in 2009, former commissioner Terry Kline severely cut the funding to a state contractor (Grand Lake Mental Health) who ran the hospital and served as many as 150 beds to the Tulsa community. Grand Lake Mental Health walked away from the deal and the hospital fell into the state's lap. That's when the state cut the operation down to 52 beds and filled it with patients from all over the state, leaving Tulsa with essentially little or no public mental health capacity. That's when cops started their wholesale incarceration of the psychotic patients in the county jail on trumped up process charges, to get them off the streets & out of the neighborhoods.
NonDoc published a more detailed report of the agreement.