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Interim Oklahoma health director to receive pay increase

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma State Board of Health has been an agency in turmoil.

Preston Doerflinger, the interim commissioner, said he doesn’t want the job permanently. But, on Tuesday, the board announced he will serve until further notice and receive a salary of $189,000 - around $18,000 more than his current salary.

“This agency operated without proper controls in place and, as you heard the CFO say today, we'll have a different approach for that, for the board, for the citizens of the state, and that will show a different level of accountability for this agency moving forward,” said Doerflinger, who stepped in after Terry Cline resigned.

In what appears to be an exception, Doerflinger acknowledges he doesn’t meet all of the requirements to be commissioner.

“The state’s attorney general, who said that I could come on interim basis. Based on that information, the governor then polled everyone in a room and they thought I was the appropriate person to lead this agency,” Doerflinger said.

But, one of the biggest challenges he said he will face will deal with legalizing marijuana.

“Just the turnaround itself for anybody would be difficult,” Doerflinger said. "But, for this agency right now, it would be next to impossible for us to get ready to carry out what we're charged with the way it's currently designed.”

State Representative Bobby Cleveland issued a statement, outraged by Tuesday’s decision:

"Taxpayers are now footing an enormous bill for an interim director who meets not a single qualification for the commissioner of health outlined in statute. Oklahomans are paying Doerflinger to 'fix' the Health Department's financial crisis, yet Doerflinger failed to catch this multimillion dollar mismanagement when he was at OMES, supposedly overseeing the whole thing.”