It’s good to have information. It’s better to have more information. It’s best of all to be able to act on the information. Democracy works best when those it serves – you and your fellow citizens – take an interest, learn what is going on, and help create better government. Most of us let our power as citizens sit idle; many of us don’t even manage to exercises our basic democratic right to vote on a regular basis. If you have read this far, you probably are ready to do more. You can take the next step by following legislation, contacting your elected officials, making your views known to leaders and your fellow citizens, and joining groups that share your interests.
There is much more to know about Oklahoma tax and budget policy than we can fit in this Guide (honestly!). This section provides some sources for additional information. The information you need comes in many forms and from many sources.
Budgets are the approved financial plans adopted by governments every fiscal year. They tell where money will come from, where it will go, what services are planned, and in many cases how success will be measured.
Annual financial reports are the official accounting records created after the fiscal year ends. They summarize financial highlights and give summary and detailed information on sources of revenue, spending by function and agency, and statistical information. They also include the independent auditor’s report on the financial statements and on the activities in which the auditor engaged.
Other official reports include results of audits, strategic planning documents, performance reports, annual reports on financial and other operations of major programs and agencies, and explanations of taxes and other government revenues.
Interest groups, such as Oklahoma Policy Institute, may report on detailed results of government activities and suggest ways to provide better service to the persons represented by the group. These often compare Oklahoma results to those of other states.
National reports prepared by the federal government, associations of state and local governments, and interest groups compare finances and results of many state and local governments. These are particularly useful for finding out how Oklahoma compares to the rest of the country.
The links in the following pages give a sample of agencies and groups that provide useful information, including a description of what is offered, contact information, and links, where possible.