Though he has a reputation of selecting outsiders for state government positions, Gov. Kevin Stitt appointed state budget director Shelly Paulk to the Oklahoma Tax Commission this morning.
Paulk has worked for the state since 2006, climbing the ranks within the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to become state budget director in 2019. In that position, Paulk helps manage state agency budgets by tracking, analyzing and reconciling revenue collections, state appropriations and revenue or tax-related legislation.
If confirmed by the State Senate, Paulk will succeed Steve Burrage, whose six-year term concludes this year.
“I am greatly honored by the opportunity the governor has extended to me to serve the people of Oklahoma in this new role,” Paulk said. “During the 14 years I’ve spent at OMES, working with revenue reporting and following tax policy has been more than just a job. It’s exciting to be able to continue that work from a different perspective and to contribute to the great work the Oklahoma Tax Commission is already doing. I am especially grateful for the experiences I’ve had working with such wonderful people at OMES over the last 14 years and the support and mentoring I’ve received.”
The Oklahoma Tax Commission’s mission is “to serve the people of Oklahoma by promoting tax compliance through quality service and fair administration,” according to its website. “The commissioners are responsible for the supervision of the administration and enforcement of state tax laws and the collection of a majority of all state-levied taxes and fees.”
Three commissioners meet regularly and sometimes hold hearings about challenges or protests to tax obligations. Title 68, Section 102 of state statutes specifies requirements about the tax commissioners’ political party registration:
No more than two (2) members of the Tax Commission shall be, or shall have been in the previous six (6) months, members of the same political party. The members of the Tax Commission shall not be subject to removal from office at the will and pleasure of the Governor, but may be removed only for cause and in the manner provided by law for the removal of state officials not subject to impeachment under the provision of Section 1, Article VIII, of the Constitution.
The other two tax commissioners are former Republican politicians: Former Sen. Clark Jolley and 2018 State Auditor & Inspector candidate Charlie Prater, who was appointed by Stitt in 2019. A voter identification record obtained from the Oklahoma State Election Board shows Paulk registered as a Democrat.
“I have seen Shelly Paulk’s expansive and detailed knowledge of our state budget system and its processes firsthand as she has been an important member of my finance team,” Stitt said in a press release. “Her experience and commitment to excellence will be invaluable for the Oklahoma Tax Commission. I am pleased to appoint her to this new role as she continues to serve our state but will miss interacting with her more frequently.”
According to Stitt’s press release, Paulk earned a bachelor’s degree in business management and ethics from Mid-America Christian University and an MBA in leadership and organizational development from Oklahoma Christian University.
(Update: This article was updated at 4 p.m. Monday, March 1, to include Paulk’s information about voter registration.)