Skip to Content

The politics of revenue raising matters for health care and teachers (Capitol Update)

by | February 24th, 2017 | Posted in Budget, Capitol Updates, Education, Healthcare | Comments (1)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

There are couple of big issues starting their trek through the legislative process, and the way they ultimately get handled will affect the state’s long-range structural challenges. The first challenge concerns raising the cigarette tax and dedicating the proceeds to health care agencies. In the last several years, legislative and executive leaders have blamed the general revenue shortfall on too many revenue sources being taken “off the top” for some specific purpose, thus never reaching the general revenue fund.

The current cigarette tax proposal increases the tax by $1.50 per pack and specifically directs where the money must be spent. This is the same as taking it off the top. The only difference is the revenue goes to the general revenue fund, but it is required by law to be spent for a specific purpose. This limits the flexibility of future legislatures to appropriate the money where it may be more urgently needed without changing the law.

Continue Reading »

Budget Update: Key takeaways from the February Board of Equalization meeting

by | February 23rd, 2017 | Posted in Budget, Taxes | Comments (0)

The State Board of Equalization met on February 21st to approve revised revenue estimates for FY 2017 and FY 2018. This estimate will be binding on the Legislature as it develops the FY 2018 budget over the coming months.

Here are our main takeaways from the new certification:

Continue Reading »

Governor’s budget shows how bad Oklahoma’s fiscal health has gotten (Capitol Update)

by | February 17th, 2017 | Posted in Budget, Capitol Updates, Taxes | Comments (1)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

Looking at Governor Fallin’s FY-18 budget proposal makes one realize how poor the fiscal condition of the state is. If the Legislature and the governor were to dedicate themselves to doing everything necessary to work our way out of the current budget dilemma, it still would take years. Our recent practice of patching things together with tax cuts and budget cuts, robbing various funds, borrowing, and betting on the come that there will be a quick turnaround in the Oklahoma economy has only dug the hole deeper. At least the governor and many in the Legislature have concluded that will no longer work.

Continue Reading »

Across core services, Oklahoma underspends (Guest post: State Treasurer Ken Miller)

by | February 16th, 2017 | Posted in Budget | Comments (1)

Ken Miller, Ph.D., is the State Treasurer of Oklahoma. A Republican, Miller was first elected to a four-year term in 2010 and was unopposed for re-election in 2014. Miller earned his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Oklahoma, an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University and a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from Lipscomb University. His fields of specialization are applied public economics and public finance effects on economic growth. This article originally appeared in Treasurer Miller’s Oklahoma Economic Report.

State Treasurer Ken Miller

State government has four core responsibilities – education, health care, public safety and transportation. It is those fundamental services on which the people depend to have productive lives. For businesses, those services done right provide an environment in which they can thrive.

Analysis of data released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau, along with the most-recent data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Federal Highway Administration, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, shows that, even when adjusted for Oklahoma’s relatively low cost of living, funding for core services still lags the region and the nation.

No one will argue that funding alone ensures success, but comparing Oklahoma’s spending to the rest of the states provides a relative measure of where we stand.

Continue Reading »

OK PolicyCast Episode 24: All about the revenues

by | February 14th, 2017 | Posted in Budget, Podcast, Taxes | Comments (0)

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

The OK PolicyCast is back!

Governor Fallin surprised many observer of Oklahoma politics by calling for dramatic revenue increases and major tax reforms in her State of the State address. In this podcast, we discuss the Governor’s ideas, what’s most likely to make it through the Legislature, and what other ideas Oklahoma Policy Institute has put forward to fix our state’s budget hole.

You can subscribe at the links above, download the podcast here, or play it in your browser:

Statement: Lawmakers should heed Governor Fallin’s call to fix structural deficit

by | February 6th, 2017 | Posted in Budget, Press Releases & Statements | Comments (2)

Oklahoma Policy Institute released the following comment in response to Governor Fallin’s State of the State address:

We applaud Governor Fallin’s call to fix Oklahoma’s structural budget deficits and reverse years of funding cuts that are damaging the health and prosperity of our entire state. The Legislature must heed the governor’s calls to reduce incarceration, fund a teacher pay raise, and restore the 5-day school week. Oklahoma knows how to address these problems, and we have no excuse not to do something this year.

Governor Fallin’s tax reform proposals, whch include ending the corporate income tax and the sales tax on groceries while expanding the sales tax base in other ways, has potential to reduce revenue volatility and end one of the most regressive aspects of our tax system. However, these reforms must be carefully assessed for how they would affect families, the economy, and state revenues. Oklahoma’s budget hole grew from years of tax cuts and tax breaks passed without consideration for what they would cost. Going forward, tax reforms need to stick to a more realistic assessment of what our state needs to do its job.

A grand bargain on tax reform should also include other policies to end loopholes, improve funding for the services Oklahomans need most, and make our tax system work for regular families – policies like rolling back cuts to Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit, restoring a higher income tax rate for very high incomes, and ending the capital gains tax break. Together these reforms would stabilize revenues and provide a strong foundation for all Oklahoma families to build a prosperous future.

Start here to be ready for Oklahoma’s 2017 legislative session

by | February 6th, 2017 | Posted in Budget, OK Policy | Comments (1)

Today is the first day of the 2017 legislative session. Governor Mary Fallin will kick things off with her State of the State address in the House chambers beginning at noon. You can follow her speech online here. Governor Fallin will also introduce her FY 2018 budget, which will include her proposals for filling the state’s $740 million budget hole.

Look for OK Policy’s response to the Governor’s budget later today, and later this week, we’ll share our 2017 legislative priorities and revenue options for balancing the budget. Here are even more resources that we think will be helpful for anyone who wants to be well-informed and effectively engaged over the four months of the legislative session:

Continue Reading »

Introducing the newly updated Online Budget Guide

by | January 19th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Budget, Featured Budget & Tax, Taxes | Comments (0)

To understand how state and local governments operate in Oklahoma, we especially need to understand the budget. The budget is how we allocate resources across all of our publicly-supported institutions – not just state and local government agencies, but also many private businesses and non-profits that receive public funds to do such things as build roads, operate nursing homes, or provide child care.

The budget is a financial document, but it is also a moral document. How we allocate dollars reflects our common priorities and affects our common achievements. The same is true of how we divide the responsibility to pay for our public services and infrastructure. The taxes and other revenues collected by government represent each person’s investment in shared prosperity.

OK Policy’s Online Budget Guide, fully updated for 2017, is a tool for users to understand Oklahoma state and local governments, particularly how they collect and spend money. In the Online Budget Guide, we look at all sources of funding, not just the major taxes, and all spending, not just state appropriations. To the extent possible, we provide data showing how Oklahoma compares to other states and how spending and taxes have changed over time. We examine how the state budget is developed, and explore the serious fiscal challenges Oklahoma confronts, now and in the future.

Continue Reading »

Budget hearings illuminate needs of Oklahoma’s major agencies (Capitol Update)

by | January 13th, 2017 | Posted in Budget, Capitol Updates | Comments (0)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

To better inform more House members about the state budget, Speaker Charles McCall has made budget briefings by some of the major state agencies available to all House members. They’ve been held in the House Chamber with all members invited. This is a good idea, especially with the budget crisis the Legislature is facing and with 32 new House members. Usually these briefings, although they are open to everyone, are for the benefit of and mostly attended by the members of the Appropriations and Budget Committee.

There are going to be some difficult votes for legislators, regardless of what direction they take. The more the members know about the budget problems, the more open they’ll be to finding and supporting solutions. Also, the better they’ll be able to explain their votes to constituents. After all, the votes are, or should be, cast in the best interest of constituents. Representing is more than waving a finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. It’s also about digging beneath the surface and doing the right thing for the public. To do the right thing members must be able to feel they can explain what they did and why they did it.

Continue Reading »

Is Oklahoma due for a change in direction on the budget? (Capitol Updates)

by | January 6th, 2017 | Posted in Budget, Capitol Updates, Taxes | Comments (1)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

The turning of a new year is a time when people tend to reflect on the past and look toward the future. I’ve been thinking about the past few legislative sessions and what they mean for the upcoming session. A famous quotation from Shakespeare comes to mind that says “what’s past is prologue.” I’m not strong on interpreting literature, but I suppose this means that what has happened in the past leads to what will happen next. Or said another way, it could mean that the past provides the context for what will happen next. Or it could simply mean we’re in for more of the same.

Continue Reading »

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 35