In The Know: Oil & gas tax break underestimated; $48 million hole in budget

by | February 17th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission revealed that a tax break for the oil and gas industry will cost more than originally planned, leaving Oklahoma with a $48 million hole in next year’s budget.  Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt asked the state Supreme Court to decide the rights of two Oklahoma tribes to water in their territories.  There was an altercation between two lawmakers yesterday on the House floor.

An Oklahoma Senate committee defeated a proposal to restrict pseudoephedrine sales.  StateImpact OK details the past, present, and future of wind energy in Oklahoma.  Senator James Inhofe filed a joint resolution of disapproval against a new rule to limit mercury emissions and air toxins from power plants.

A group of family health clinics is expanding their telemedicine network for behavioral health to better serve rural Oklahomans.  Oklahoma tech schools and community colleges awarded the most certificates last year in the family, consumer, and health fields.  The Classen Schools of Advanced Studies in Oklahoma City is asking parents to pitch in to repair ceiling tiles, light fixtures, sidewalks made of plywood, and a dirt parking lot.

High unemployment and poverty persist in the tiny historically black town of Boley.  Two events in March in Tulsa and Oklahoma City will explore the racial wealth gap in Oklahoma.  Today’s Number of the Day is the number of Oklahomans employed in construction in 2011.  In today’s Policy Note, Economic Policy Institute reports that the unemployment rate for African Americans and Latinos in the United States is still devastatingly high and in double-digits in most states.

continue reading In The Know: Oil & gas tax break underestimated; $48 million hole in budget

Upcoming Event: Closing the Gap: Race, Wealth, and Homeownership in Oklahoma, March 14th & 15th

by | February 16th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Upcoming Events | Comments (3)

Closing the Gap: Race, Wealth, and Homeownership in Oklahoma

March 14th | Oklahoma City | 7pm | Oklahoma City Museum and Memorial

March 15th | Tulsa | 7pm  | Mayo Hotel Terrace Room

 

You’re invited to attend an evening of presentations and discussion on race, wealth, and homeownership.

As Oklahoma inches out of the Great Recession, our economic future is bright but uncertain.  The most vulnerable among us – low-income people and residents of low-income neighborhoods – were hit first and worst by the housing crisis and subsequent recession, exacerbating long-standing disparities in wealth and asset-ownership.  Recovering from economic turmoil in the face of major demographic changes requires a new growth model that will bring Oklahoma closer to the ideal of American prosperity.  These lectures will begin a conversation among public and private sector leaders about investments that allow all Oklahomans to maximize their potential.  Recent research points to higher concentrations of subprime lending and foreclosures among communities of color, persistent discriminatory lending practices, and deeply entrenched gaps in wealth, income, and employment between white and nonwhite Oklahomans.

I. The Housing Crisis in Oklahoma:  How Bad Was It?

Dr. Angela Gobar, Director of Human Capital Development at Jackson State University
An analysis of subprime lending and foreclosures with an emphasis on communities of color.

II. The Widening Racial Wealth Gap

Kate Richey, Policy Analyst with the Oklahoma Policy Institute will present data and analysis on the racial wealth gap in Oklahoma – from home and business ownership to savings, investments, and other assets vital to long-term financial security.

Click here to RSVP or

Call 918-794-3944 or

Email krichey@okpolicy.org


In The Know: Senate passes personhood bill

by | February 16th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that the first bill of the session passed by the Oklahoma Senate was an anti-abortion statement that life begins at the moment of conception. Republican lawmaker and emergency room physician Rep. Doug Cox decried a new effort to cut off funding to Oklahoma Planned Parenthood clinics, which provide many services for children and women, including tests to detect cancer. OK Policy shared its overview of all of the bills filed this legislative session, which looks better for immigrants but terrible for poor people.

Kingfisher mother Patricia Spottedcrow, who is serving an eight-year prison sentence for selling $31 in marijuana, will get an early chance at parole. A LeFlore County judge ruled that Oklahoma’s commercial pet breeding rules are constitutional. A bill to gradually increase the legal age to purchase tobacco in Oklahoma from 18 to 21 has passed out of a House committee.

NewsOK writes that the claim that sales tax revenue can make up for income tax cuts is problematic hype. Developers say a tax credit being targeted for elimination as part of the effort to roll back income taxes is key to saving historic buildings around the state. Gov. Fallin wrote a letter urging members of Congress to extend a federal tax credit for wind energy production.

A Tulsa-area recycling agency has found a way to increase the value of its products while creating jobs for ex-felons. Five fields account for about half of all four-year degrees earned at Oklahoma colleges and universities, and the number one degree awarded is business and management. A new report card measures how Oklahoma City and Tulsa are doing on racial equity.

The Number of the Day is the year by which Oklahoma is expected to have the highest obesity rate in the nation. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times reports on how even critics of the safety net increasingly depend on it.

continue reading In The Know: Senate passes personhood bill

2012 Session: Prospects look better for immigrants, worse for the poor, loaded for gun enthusiasts

by | February 15th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Capitol Matters, Immigration, Poverty | Comments (3)

The 2012 legislative session convened last Monday and will run until the end of May (click here for a complete run-though of how this works in our handy Legislative Overview). With 1,934 new bills  filed, it takes awhile before we know for certain which priorities will dominate the session. But now that our merry gang of bill-trackers have taken a first look, a few themes have emerged.

One is a subject more notable by its absence than its presence: immigration. Last year, some two dozen immigration bills were introduced, most looking to impose tighter law enforcement and verification restrictions on undocumented immigrants. Most of the bills were killed by House and Senate leadership over the course of session. Ultimately a single bill, HB 1446, emerged out of conference committee but was defeated on a bipartisan vote in the House.

continue reading 2012 Session: Prospects look better for immigrants, worse for the poor, loaded for gun enthusiasts

In The Know: Voters to decide whether to remove governor from parole process

by | February 15th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that a State Question will appear on the November ballot to remove the governor from the parole process for nonviolent offenders. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt joined 9 other state attorneys general threatening legal opposition to birth control coverage. Democrats won landslide victories Tuesday to fill two vacant legislative seats.

Tahlequah lawmakers are highly skeptical of the push to eliminate income tax because it would shift the burden onto lower and middle-income Oklahomans. The OK Policy Blog corrects a false claim about Oklahoma’s tax system that has been repeated by Governor Fallin and the state’s major newspapers. General revenue sales-tax collections for January hit an all-time monthly record, but overall collections remain below what the state brought in six years ago.

The Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice is providing several programs to combat racism and bigotry in Oklahoma schools. A key Department of Public Safety executive resigned Monday, one day after a Tulsa World story detailed his firing from the Department of Corrections for excessive force and civil rights violations. A witness in the bribery trial of former Senate leader Mike Morgan said Morgan was paid more than $140,000 to block legislation that would cause problems for a proposed landfill.

The Number of the Day is how many children out of every 1,000 entered the Oklahoma foster care system in 2009. In today’s Policy Note, David Cay Johnston corrects three big lies about America’s tax system.

continue reading In The Know: Voters to decide whether to remove governor from parole process

The myth about Oklahoma’s tax system that we keep repeating

by | February 14th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (2)

Something we often hear about Oklahoma’s tax system is that the top rate kicks in so low that it affects almost everyone. Most recently, a Tulsa World article stated:

The current comparable top rate is 5.25 percent, which kicks on net income over $15,000 a year.  That’s correct: The state’s top tax bracket – and there are six other lower tax brackets – kicks in at $15,000 a year, about $80 a year less than the gross earning of someone working full time at the U.S. minimum wage.

Actually, that’s incorrect. It leaves out two major components of our tax system: the standard deduction and personal exemption. Because of the standard deduction, the first $5,800 of income for singles and $11,600 for married couples is not taxed. The personal exemption means an additional $1,000 for each person in the household is not taxed.

continue reading The myth about Oklahoma’s tax system that we keep repeating

In The Know: House panel advances Laffer plan to abolish income tax

by | February 14th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that a House panel voted 9-1 with no debate to move forward a bill based on the Laffer plan to abolish the income tax. The OK Policy Blog discussed a new report exposing the highly misleading analysis behind Arthur Laffer’s claims. We previously discussed how Laffer’s work leaves out more than it includes, because his goal is never to provide an accurate economic assessment, but to tell politicians what they want to hear.

Struggling due to low natural gas prices, Chesapeake Energy announced a new financial plan that it hopes will allow it to raise the billions in cash it needs to get through the next year or so without going bankrupt. House Speaker Kris Steele said lawsuits over water rights between two American Indian tribes and the state should not prohibit lawmakers from working on water policy this year. Some lawmakers are questioning funding for the agency tasked with building the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum, which remains half completed.

The $14.6 million spent by Oklahoma last year to remove snow and ice from state roads and highways was the highest it’s ever been. Oklahoma higher education officials say they’re optimistic about an Obama administration proposal designed to put 2 million new workers in job-growth fields by partnering businesses with community colleges. The Oklahoma Insurance Department’s spokesman resigned after sending an official email to hundreds of people containing a sexist comment.

The Number of the Day is how many House and Senate bills were filed for the 2012 session of the 53rd Oklahoma Legislature. In today’s Policy Note, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute gave Oklahoma an ‘F’ for public school science curriculum standards, writing that they “could not have been written—or vetted—by anyone with a working knowledge of the natural world.”

continue reading In The Know: House panel advances Laffer plan to abolish income tax

Introducing our new outreach coordinator

by | February 13th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (2)

Oklahoma Policy Institute is delighted to announce that Megan Williams Benn will be joining our team as an outreach coordinator working with a broad group of organizations on efforts to protect our tax base and ensure adequate funding of public services.

A native of Balko in Western Oklahoma, Megan has extensive experience in both government and the private sector. After earning a B.A. from Texas Christian University, she worked in Washington, D.C. as an executive assistant at the White House and as director of business development for Clifford L. Brody Associates. Since returning to Oklahoma, she has served as program coordinator for the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, researcher for Oklahoma Senate staff, and Legislative Liaison for the Department of Commerce. Most recently she has operated her own political consulting business, where she has advised  rural schools and other clients. She and her husband, Dr. Jason Benn, have two children and live in Norman.

Under her contract with OK Policy, Megan will lead the efforts of an emerging coalition that is working to promote fair and sustainable budget and tax policies. Megan’s experience has provided her an unequaled mix of policy expertise and familiarity with the legislative process, and she has a broad network of relations at the Capitol and around the state, especially among those in the economic development and education communities and in rural areas.  We are very excited to welcome Megan on board, and know that she will make a great contribution to building on the successes of OK Policy and increasing our impact on the critical fiscal policy debates facing the state.

You can reach Megan at mwbenn(at)okpolicy.org

Laffer Debunked: States without an income tax do not enjoy stronger economic growth

by | February 13th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Economy, Taxes | Comments (8)

Update: We have put out a fact sheet summarizing major flaws in the Laffer report.

Do states without an income tax enjoy stronger economic growth? This is one of the central claims made by economist Arthur Laffer in a recent report published by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and echoed repeatedly by proponents of eliminating Oklahoma’s income tax, including by Governor Mary Fallin in her 2012 State of the State address (1). However, a new report from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) shows that Laffer’s claim is based on a highly misleading analysis.

The ITEP report, titled “Don’t Be Fooled By Junk Economics”,  shows that: 1) Laffer cherry-picked metrics that are all tied to population growth; 2) population is growing in the South and West, where most of the no-income tax states happen to be, for reasons of climate, demographics, and the housing market, not state tax rates; 3) when more accurate indicators of economic growth are used, states without an income tax are doing no better than other states, including Oklahoma.

Laffer’s study compares the nine states without an income tax to the nine states with the highest personal income tax rate. He concludes:

Economic growth is stronger in states with no personal income growth and weaker in the states with the highest income tax rates – in good times and bad… To single out just one metric over the past decade, employment growth in the zero-tax states was 5.38 percent versus 0.51 percent for the nation and -1.68 percent for the highest tax-rate states.

continue reading Laffer Debunked: States without an income tax do not enjoy stronger economic growth

In The Know: Overcrowding of DHS shelters for children violates state law

by | February 13th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

The number of abused and neglected children being kept at Oklahoma’s two state-run shelters has soared this past year in violation of Oklahoma law. A national child welfare expert was shocked that Oklahoma has babies in its shelters. Oklahoma has decreased child welfare spending since 2006, and the state spends only about 60 percent as much per child as states with similar populations. Last year, Oklahoma’s youth suicide rate was 31 percent higher than the national rate, and cuts to mental health services resulted in a dramatic increase in calls to the state’s suicide hotline.

Meanwhile, Gov. Fallin is continuing to push for a huge income tax cut. Dale Wares writes why those predicting the tax cut can pay for itself would have failed Economics 101. See more on this issue at OK Policy’s tax reform information page.

The state paid $300,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a mother who hid her young girl after DHS workers rejected her concerns the girl had been molested. In the past three months, the state has paid almost $1 million to settle lawsuits involving DHS. Because of a new law, 130 sex offenders will be evicted from a ministry-run trailer park that was helping them transition to life after prison. An estimated 11,000 compulsive gamblers have been banned from casinos throughout the state as part of a strategy to curb addictive gambling.

Oklahoma state workers have gone nearly 6 years without a pay increase. Oklahoma City is looking into what it can do to restore transparency of who spends money on local elections. The Boston Globe profiles how Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren was influenced by growing up in Oklahoma. The Guardian looks at an Oklahoma bill on evolution and climate change that is part of a renewed anti-science assault on U.S. schools.

The Number of the Day is how many people die on average each day in Oklahoma from an injury inflicted by a firearm. In today’s Policy Note, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy explains why Arthur Laffer’s claim that n0-income tax states are doing better than other states is junk economics.

continue reading In The Know: Overcrowding of DHS shelters for children violates state law