In The Know: Gov. Fallin warns against putting tax breaks on hold

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.

Today In The News

Oklahoma governor warns against putting tax breaks on hold: Oklahoma lost out on two significant business projects because the Legislature is considering trimming tax breaks, Gov. Mary Fallin said in urging lawmakers to tread lightly as they consider altering economic development incentives. Also, backers of millions of dollars in historic preservation efforts, including the First National Center in Oklahoma City, are warning their financing could fall through if favorable tax treatment is lost. The governor issued a statement Tuesday evening saying lawmakers need to be careful “not to harm economic development prospects by hampering the state’s ability to diversify its economy and create jobs.” [NewsOK]

State general revenues plunge in January: General revenue fund collections continued to tumble in January, according to a report released Tuesday. Collections were 16.2 percent lower than the same time last year, according to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. January general revenue fund collections of $507.6 million were $105.5 million, or 17.2 percent, below the official estimate upon which the fiscal year 2016 appropriated state budget was based, and $98.1 million below prior year collections [Tulsa World]. The state budget deficit is not just oil prices [OK Policy].

Prosperity Policy: No easy way out: The budget emergency facing Oklahoma legislators may be the worst in state history. And there are no easy ways out. Plummeting energy prices, along with an ill-timed state income tax cut, have left lawmakers with at least $900 million less to spend next year. The hole will likely grow greater once revised revenue projections are certified. To be sure, legislators have faced grave crises in the past. But there have always been more tools at their disposal to meet public needs [David Blatt / Journal Record].

House roundup: Lawmakers say budget squeeze could knock 111,000 Oklahomans off Medicaid rolls: More than 110,000 Oklahomans would lose Medicaid coverage under legislation that advanced Wednesday in the House of Representatives. Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, said he offered House Bill 2665 “with a heavy heart” in an attempt to give the state more flexibility in dealing with a general revenue drop expected to exceed $1 billion. The bill directs the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers the state’s Medicaid program, to seek a federal waiver to allow it to exclude able-bodied adults younger than 65 from Medicaid benefits [Tulsa World].

Election Plan For High-Court Justices Clears House Panel: Justices on Oklahoma’s highest appellate courts would be elected, not appointed, under a plan narrowly approved by a House committee. The House Elections and Ethics Committee voted 4-3 on Wednesday to advance the measure to the House floor. House Joint Resolution 1037 would seek a public vote on whether to change the way judges are selected for the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals and Court of Civil Appeals [News9]. At least 20 measures to change Oklahoma’s judicial system have been filed this year [OK Policy].

Oklahoma House Committee Approves Property Theft Bill: The House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee passed legislation this morning that would increase the value of some property crimes before they could be prosecuted as felonies. The measure is part of a package of bills Governor Mary Fallin proposed. Under the legislation by State Representative Pam Peterson, the threshold for property theft crimes would be raised to $1,000 for a felony. The limit is currently $500, a benchmark that’s been in place since 2002 [KGOU].

Hundreds fill the Capitol’s House floor at public hearing on earthquakes: Hundreds of people packed into the Oklahoma Capitol, demanding answers to how we stop the earthquakes that continue to damage homes. For more than five hours on Friday, residents from all over Oklahoma lined up to have a few minutes at the microphone. They’re fed up with all the recent earthquakes rattling their homes [KFOR].

‘Complete Streets’ can be a path to a healthier, more prosperous Oklahoma: In ways far more important than many Oklahomans realize, the way we live today in Oklahoma depends greatly on the choices of past generations about how to construct our transportation and community infrastructure. Today our choices are no less important for future generations. If we want healthy, growing communities that are attractive to tomorrow’s most skilled workforce, we can’t make these decisions in the same ways we have in past decades [OK Policy].

New Oklahoma prisons chief: Facilities crumbling, morale low: Joe Allbaugh, a 63-year-old native of Blackwell, Oklahoma, appointed interim director of the Department of Corrections last month, said Wednesday that he’s made unannounced visits to more than a dozen prisons in the state. He said facilities are crumbling and overcrowded, guards are underpaid and understaffed, employee morale is low and the state is ill-prepared to handle a projected increase of more than 1,000 new inmates over the next year [NewsOK]. Last year, House Speaker Jeff Hickman said that Oklahoma is “one riot away” from a federal takeover of its prison system [OK Policy].

Abortion rights group appeals Oklahoma abortion law ruling: A New York-based abortion rights group is appealing a ruling by an Oklahoma judge who upheld a state law that opponents say restricts abortions. The Center for Reproductive Rights asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Friday to overturn last month’s ruling by Oklahoma County District Judge Thomas Prince. Prince denied the group’s request to declare the measure unconstitutional but said a Supreme Court order preventing the law from going into effect would remain in place until the case is resolved [KJRH].

Pruitt Gets a Win As Supreme Court Puts EPA’s Clean Power Plan On Hold: President Barack Obama’s push to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants — won’t be implemented until after a lawsuit from 27 states, including Oklahoma, is resolved. The U.S. Supreme Court put a stay on the plan and a federal appeals court will hear arguments in the case later this year. Opponents say the Clean Power Plan is an example of federal government overreach, but supporters say the goal of reducing carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by 30 percent by 2030 is an important step toward addressing climate change [StateImpact Oklahoma]. Many of the steps the EPA suggested for Oklahoma to comply with the Clean Power Plan are already underway [OK Policy].

Quote of the Day

“The truly bottom of the barrel oil prices that started in November are just now hitting collections and will continue doing so for the next several months. All tax categories are feeling the pain.”

-Preston Doerflinger, director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, on falling state tax revenues. January’s collections were 17.2 percent below estimates (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma’s workforce that is unionized, 2015

Source: Governing analysis of US Bureau of Labor statistics

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

These Restaurant Owners Say The Time Has Come To End Tipping: For Breana Fulton, living off tips means watching the skies. A storm could mean hundreds of extra dollars in her paycheck in a given week, as passengers of grounded planes pack the airport restaurant at JFK where she waits tables. A stretch of good weather and on-schedule flights, though, and it could take twice as many shifts to pay the same monthly rent, gas, groceries, and cell phone bill. Unpredictability is built into the finances of the approximately 4.3 million workers in America who live off tips [Buzzfeed].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

One thought on “In The Know: Gov. Fallin warns against putting tax breaks on hold

  1. “He said facilities are crumbling and overcrowded, guards are underpaid and understaffed, employee morale is low and the state is ill-prepared to handle a projected increase of more than 1,000 new inmates over the next year.”

    Exactly what you get when your top legislators receive “support” from the same private prisons that pay for gubernatorial inaugurations and then turn around and beggar the public facilities so that horrible stories can be written about how government can’t get things done so you need private industry to take over. This has been the plan from the Senator Coffees et al. from the start, only now a black hole is sucking away all the “better spent” dollars from the would-be beneficiaries. It’s the same for public schools and hospitals, even for public security forces versus private security companies and bail bondspeople. In the old days this was known as eating your seed corn. As Chesapeake and the other oil/gas companies sink below the surface, there won’t be that. And bills raising the felony limit $500 to reduce prison populations will be seen as what they are–caulking and sealing joints while your attic burns and termites fill your basement.

    Happy Valentine’s!!!

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