The leadership change at the Oklahoma House of Representatives this year brought a slew of layoffs before the session even opened. Many longtime staff members who had or were believed to have allegiances to Democrats found themselves out of work. The cuts were made under the banner of efficiency, savings and bringing in your own team.

The payroll and benefit costs were up about 1.2 percent but total expenses for the year actually increased more than 5 percent under House Speaker Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville. The total cost to run this year's session was more than $7 million, according to a story from Capitol reporter Luke Engan.

House officials blamed the rise on mandated pay raises and contracting out professional services such as technology upgrades. One spokesman said the Web site was running on 20th century technology.

The state Senate also increased its operating costs. Senate expenses climbed by more than 5.6 percent in 2004. Operations on that side of the aisle were about $4.78 million for the session which ended in May. Staff members saw at least $1,400 per year in raises

The increases seem justified and some are one-time costs. The cost reductions touted when the cuts were made didn't happen. Our only question is this: Would the money have been spent if it had been a lean budget year?

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