Skip to Content

Proposed budget leaves Oklahoma services massively underfunded

by | May 25th, 2017 | Posted in Budget | Comments (3)

Note: This post was updated May 28th to reflect current information. The General Appropriation bill passed the Legislature and is awaiting action from Gov. Fallin.

After months of wrangling and stalled negotiations, legislative leaders finally introduced budget bills late Tuesday evening, just three days before the deadline to adjourn legislative session. Separate House and Senate versions of the General Appropriations (GA) bill were rolled out; however, the Senate refused to consider the House version of the budget, leaving the Senate’s bill, SB 860, as the only budget moving forward.

This budget appropriates $6.863 billion for FY 2018 — almost the same amount as FY 2017 after mid-year cuts and supplemental appropriations. Compared to the FY 2009 budget of eight years ago, this budget is 3.3 percent less in nominal terms and more than 15 percent less when adjusted for inflation. After inflation, the appropriations budget has shrunk by about $1.25 billion compared to FY 2009.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Critics: $6.8B Oklahoma Budget Bill May Be Unconstitutional

by | May 25th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

The deadline to apply for the 2017 Summer Policy Institute (SPI) is this Friday! College and graduate students can apply here or preview the application here.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including Advocacy Alerts, the Legislative Primer, the What’s That? Glossary, and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Critics: $6.8B Oklahoma Budget Bill May Be Unconstitutional: Republican and Democratic members complained Wednesday that a $6.8 billion spending plan that cuts most state agencies’ spending by about 5 percent has not been properly vetted and is likely unconstitutional. Rank-and-file legislators were given few details ahead of votes in House and Senate committees shortly before midnight on the general appropriations bill that did not include a customary summary of the 56-page measure [Associated Press].

House proposal would cut education funding: The proposed House bill that would appropriate money to state agencies for the fiscal year that begins July 1 would cut funding to several education agencies by nearly 5 percent. Photos of the revised version of House Bill 2400 were posted by state Sen. David Holt on Twitter. Six of 11 state agencies classified under education would receive a 4.87-percent cut, while nine out of 11 would have cuts above 3 percent [Journal Record]. Oklahoma’s per pupil funding of the state aid formula for public schools has fallen 26.9 percent after inflation between FY 2008 and FY 2017 [OK Policy].

Advocacy Alert: Tell lawmakers to vote down budget that breaks their promises: The legislative session began with promises to fix Oklahoma’s structural deficit, fund a teacher pay raise, and stop the reckless use of one-time funds that make our budget problems worse in future years. Unfortunately, lawmakers are now considering a budget deal that breaks all of those promises [OK Policy]. Our full statement is available here.

Continue Reading »

Statement: Lawmakers should vote down budget that breaks their promises

The Save Our State Coalition, including Oklahoma Policy Institute, released the following statement in response to the budget plan unveiled by House and Senate leaders late last night:

The legislative session began with promises to fix Oklahoma’s structural deficit, fund a teacher pay raise, and stop the reckless use of one-time funds that make our budget problems worse in future years. The conclusion of the legislative session can only be seen as a failure to meet those promises.

The source of that failure is a decision to cater to a few powerful interests instead of investing in an economy that works for all. Lawmakers had sensible, broadly popular options to protect our communities, like restoring a moderate gross production tax and rolling back wasteful income tax cuts for the very wealthy. Instead of taking these options, they cobbled together a budget using legally questionable gimmicks and even more cuts that will be passed down to regular Oklahomans.

The results of this budget will be a continuing exodus of teachers from Oklahoma schools, larger class sizes and fewer educational opportunities, failing protections for public health and safety, and collapsing support for children, seniors, and Oklahomans with disabilities — in other words, more of the same, but worse.

Oklahomans want and deserve better. The bright spot coming out of this legislative session is that a record number of lawmakers and regular Oklahomans have grown aware of our state’s revenue problems and the decisions that are perpetuating them. Despite the attempt to rush through a budget with late-night, last-minute votes, more Oklahomans than ever are watching and getting involved.

Oklahomans deserve better, even at the cost of coming back into special session to do this right. Lawmakers should vote down this budget and come up with a responsible plan. If this budget does make it through the Legislature, Governor Fallin should uphold her promise to veto a budget that does not fund core services. Oklahomans are calling on lawmakers to come back with a plan that puts regular people over special interests.

In The Know: Oklahoma lawmakers advance $6.8 billion at midnight

by | May 24th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including Advocacy Alerts, the Legislative Primer, the What’s That? Glossary, and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Oklahoma lawmakers advance $6.8 billion at midnight: Tuesday at the Oklahoma Capitol ended with leadership introducing two long-awaited budget bills. The proposals, each estimated to be $6.8 billion in spending for state agencies and programs, were introduced to House lawmakers at 11:14 p.m. One bill included a teacher pay raise and the other didn’t [NewsOK]. Legislators are attempting again to pass a last-minute budget without time for scrutiny [OK Policy].

Cigarette fee, auto-sale levy are proposed to close huge state budget hole: Lawmakers will attempt to pass a $1.50 fee on cigarettes in lieu of a tax in an effort to close the state’s budget hole, House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols said Tuesday. Echols, R-Oklahoma City, said he expects the Legislature to adjourn by Friday, thus avoiding a special session. The decision to run the cigarette levy as a fee signaled an end to protracted negotiations with House Democrats, who had sought to trade their votes on a cigarette “tax” for an increase in the gross production tax [Tulsa World].

Donations, Lobbying Reflect Influence of Oil and Gas Industry: Oklahoma’s budget hangs in the balance as Republicans and Democrats battle over how much to raise gross production taxes on oil and gas wells. But there’s a third party at the bargaining table: the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas companies, along with their trade groups, have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to lawmakers over more than two years, with top Republican leaders at the forefront of budget talks taking in some of the largest amounts. Republicans received more than 90 percent of total donations [Oklahoma Watch]. See how much your legislator received from energy interests [Oklahoma Watch].

Continue Reading »

Time to hit the brakes on SoonerCare privatization

by | May 23rd, 2017 | Posted in Healthcare | Comments (0)

Oklahoma’s efforts to privatize expensive care for the most fragile SoonerCare patients was contentious from the beginning. In 2015, HB 1566 directed the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers the state’s Medicaid (SoonerCare) program, to initiate requests for proposals for care coordination models for the program’s aged, blind, and disabled members.

This would be no small change. More than 100,000 SoonerCare members are aged, blind, or have one more disabilities, and while they make up less than 20 percent of Oklahoma’s Medicaid population, their care constitutes nearly half of its spending. These individuals tend to be very medically complex, with co-occurring chronic conditions and in-home care needs. As such, they are very sensitive to changes in their health care.

Lawmakers pushing for the transition were very clear that it was a cost-saving effort, leaving members and advocates concerned that their health needs would be overruled by budgetary concerns. These concerns increased when the Health Care Authority settled on an inflexible “fully capitated” care model, where private health insurance companies contracted by the state would receive a set per-member per-month payment and would be responsible for providing the full range of health care services to those on their plans.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Oklahoma lawmakers in late-night meeting advance bill for temporary oil, gas tax increase

by | May 23rd, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

The deadline to apply for the 2017 Summer Policy Institute (SPI) is this Friday! College and graduate students can apply here or preview the application here.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including Advocacy Alerts, the Legislative Primer, the What’s That? Glossary, and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Oklahoma lawmakers in late-night meeting advance bill for temporary oil, gas tax increase: In dual committees that met after 11 p.m. Monday, the Oklahoma Legislature advanced a temporary raise in the gross production tax and rejected a bill targeting state agency “swag.” House Bill 2429 raises the oil and gas production tax rate to 4 percent on wells that are taxed at 1 percent. While new horizontal wells are taxed at 2 percent, some older wells drilled between 2011 and 2015 are taxed at the lower discount rate [NewsOK]. A full repeal of tax oil and gas tax breaks could bring more than $300 million in FY 2018 [OK Policy].

Oklahoma city business groups call for the Legislature to vote on criminal justice reform bills: Frustrated with a House committee chairman’s failure to call for votes on several criminal justice reform initiatives, leaders of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and Tulsa Regional Chamber issued a joint statement Monday urging House leadership to get involved. “It is midafternoon on the day everyone was assured these bills would get the hearing they deserve, yet no meeting is scheduled,” Roy Williams, president & CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, and Mike Neal, president & CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, said in a joint news release Monday [NewsOK]. Misguided budget concerns are endangering criminal justice reform [OK Policy].

Without deal, Oklahoma House advances bills with $200 million in revenue: House lawmakers have begun to advance revenue in a piecemeal fashion absent a deal on filling Oklahoma’s budget shortfall. The House budget committees originally were scheduled to meet in the early afternoon Monday, but leadership pushed back the meetings several times. The latest meeting time, for which there was no agenda, was scheduled at 9 p.m. as of press time. A special session call from Gov. Mary Fallin, although expected, had not yet materialized [NewsOK]. The revenue-raising bill is not a tax increase, legislators contended [Tulsa World].

Continue Reading »

In The Know: No budget plan in place with week remaining in legislative session

by | May 22nd, 2017 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including Advocacy Alerts, the Legislative Primer, the What’s That? Glossary, and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

No budget plan in place with week remaining in legislative session: This week marks the final days of the Oklahoma legislative session, and lawmakers still do not have a budget plan in place. The House told members last week to be prepared to work throughout the weekend, including Sunday, but, lawmakers were not at the Capitol. Friday was the deadline to agree upon revenue-raising measures. Legislators did not agree upon a plan, so, starting Monday, Republicans and Democrats will engage in a concurrent special session, officials said. [KOCO] Oklahoma’s past accomplishments teach us how to build a better budget and a better future [OK Policy]

Budget compromise eludes lawmakers: Despite hours of negotiations behind closed doors, House Republicans and Democrats said Saturday afternoon that they appeared no closer to reaching a budget compromise. With less than week left to pass a balanced budget, House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, and House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, indicated that budget talks had collapsed again amid the ongoing disagreement about how to raise revenue to fill an $878 million shortfall. [CNHI] Amid budget deadlock, a reminder of what’s at stake [OK Policy]

Restore the oil, gas production tax: As a long-time resident of the great state of Oklahoma, I care passionately about our children and the vulnerable citizens in our state. I understand it is a difficult decision to decide how to raise OK revenue but what the House leadership (with the governor’s support) proposed includes a significant tax on the lower and middle income Oklahomans with little impact on the wealthy oil and gas companies. [Carolynn MacAllister/Stillwater News Press] How much new revenue will ending oil and gas tax breaks bring in? [OK Policy]

Continue Reading »

The Weekly Wonk: Gross production tax must be part of budget deal

by | May 21st, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

Executive Director David Blatt explained why raising the gross production tax must be a part of the state’s budget plan and shared a memo that explained how much revenue various gross production tax options would raise. OK Policy issued a statement responding to the budget plan announced earlier this week that left out an increase in gross production tax rates.   Blatt’s Journal Record column argued that we should adopt criminal justice reforms now to save money in the future.

Policy Director Gene Perry wondered if legislators would again pass a last minute budget without time for consideration or scrutiny. Perry also argued that a focus on spending, rather than the real people that benefit from that spending, is leading lawmakers astray.  Finally, Perry reminded us that spending cuts have very real consequences for many Oklahomans – real people and real lives are at stake.

OK Policy in the News

OK Policy data was referenced by Wayne Greene in his Tulsa World editorial arguing that the gross production tax should be restored to 7%. Perry was interviewed by Governing Magazine for a piece about the declining adherence to democratic norms at the state and national level. 

Policy Analyst Carly Putnam was quoted by The Oklahoman in a story about SB 478, a bill that would allow out-of-state companies to sell insurance policies in Oklahoma as long as those policies meet minimum coverage standards. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler contributed to a story by NBC News about the lack of success in states that have adopted a strict tough-on-crime stance toward drug crime.

Continue Reading »

Amid budget deadlock, a reminder of what’s at stake

At the state Capitol, lawmakers remain deadlocked over how to find enough revenue to avoid crippling budget scenarios. The main barrier appears to be legislative leadership’s refusal to allow a vote on removing huge tax breaks for oil and gas producers. On Wednesday night, oil and gas industry lobbyists preemptively held an end-of-session party for lawmakers, but without a budget deal the session may not end anytime soon.

Meanwhile, school districts left in the dark about what their budgets will look like next year have already begun to make cuts. Tulsa Public Schools approved a plan to close three schools and lay off 37 teachers; Oklahoma City is increasing class sizes and selling their administration building; Woodward is shutting down a summer program and cutting staff; Muskogee is ending a popular STEM program. These cuts are only the latest in what is approaching a decade of squeezed education funding — students in 1st grade when we started cutting funding are now high school freshmen. More than 200 schools across the state have already gone to a 4-day school week, and dozens of school districts are looking at or have already shortened their school year.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Lawmakers divided on oil and gas tax increase

by | May 19th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including Advocacy Alerts, the Legislative Primer, the What’s That? Glossary, and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Lawmakers divided on oil and gas tax increase: Tempers flared Thursday and budget talks — at least briefly — collapsed as lawmakers remained deeply divided on whether to increase taxes on the oil and gas industry. As several purported bipartisan revenue-raising compromises have collapsed in the final days of session, lawmakers exchanged barbs about whether their counterparts on the other side of the aisle were negotiating in good faith . Meanwhile, the political showmanship ramped up as protesters crowded into the Capitol [Stillwater News Press]. We must end oil and gas tax breaks to save Oklahoma communities [OK Policy]. Learn more about how to ask lawmakers to end the special tax breaks for oil and gas producers.

Big Oil is set to make a lot more money in Oklahoma, why can’t it pay more taxes? The critical issue behind all of the recent turmoil at the state Capitol — and one of the keys to a revenue solution for Oklahoma — is the gross production tax. That’s the tax the state applies to natural gas and oil, and, despite its critical place in the current political climate, it’s not well understood [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World].

1,000th abandoned well site cleaned up in Osage County, Oklahoma: Osage County landowners Vicki Hayward and James Wright soon will be able to let their grandchildren safely play on their property after crews this week began clearing out a nearly century-old abandoned oil field site. “It’s a dream come true,” Hayward said of the cleanup effort. “It’s beyond our expectations. It means so much to us to see the land restored.” [NewsOK]

Continue Reading »

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. ...
  11. 366