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All articles by Courtney Cullison

In The Know: Fallin vetoes ‘most of revised budget’

by | November 20th, 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.

Today In The News

Fallin vetoes ‘most of revised budget’: Gov. Mary Fallin has vetoed “most” of HB 1019, the revised general appropriations bill sent to her desk this morning. To conclude a grueling eight-week special session, the Oklahoma Legislature had adjourned sine die Friday, but now lawmakers may have to return for additional session at some point. [NonDoc] Challenges Persist After Fallin’s Budget Veto [Oklahoma Watch] The vetoed budget was a squandered opportunity of massive proportions [OK Policy]

Reaction to veto of ‘cuts and cash’ bill ranges from ire to applause from political leaders: Reaction was mixed Saturday to Gov. Mary Fallin’s veto of a controversial bill that used cash and agency cuts to shore up the ailing state budget. Hours after the Senate sent the measure to her desk Friday, Fallin line-item vetoed all but five of the 170 sections of House Bill 1019. The action temporarily preserved funding for key health and human services. [Tulsa World] Mixed reactions after Governor Fallin vetoes “most of revised” budget bill [KFOR]

The EITC has been an unfortunate victim of Oklahoma’s budget gridlock: In 2016, Oklahoma lawmakers were struggling to pass a state budget amid a massive revenue shortfall. Sound familiar? One of the measures taken by lawmakers in that year to fill their shortfall was making Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) non-refundable. [OK Policy]

continue reading In The Know: Fallin vetoes ‘most of revised budget’

In The Know: Oklahoma Families Prepare As Legislators Work On Budget

by | November 13th, 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.

Note: In The Know will be on a break for the remainder of the week due to an all-staff conference.  We will return on November 20th.

Today In The News

Oklahoma Families Prepare As Legislators Work On Budget: State lawmakers went back to the drawing board Thursday after their latest budget plan failed just 24 hours ago. Some lawmakers are defending votes against the plan, despite severe cuts looming for state services. [News On 6] Foster mom enraged at lawmakers’ failures [KTUL] ​I’m an adoptive parent. S​tate budget cuts put my family at risk. [OK Policy]

Panic mounts in budget crisis: Panic is mounting as the state budget crisis drags on into its eighth week and cuts to health care, mental health and social services programs are now just days away. And some lawmakers warned that even deeper cuts to state agencies are on the horizon a day after House lawmakers killed a proposed tax increase on cigarettes, gasoline, beer and oil and gas producers. [CNHI] Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy]

Stay till Christmas? Budget battle might continue for weeks: After the only bipartisan revenue package that has come out of the special legislative session died on the House floor, what’s to come depends on whom you ask. The Oklahoma Legislature will begin its eighth week of special session on Monday. Lawmakers aren’t closer to filling the $215 million budget gap than they were on Sept. 25, when they reconvened for the first time. [Journal Record] What now? [OK Policy

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma Families Prepare As Legislators Work On Budget

The Weekly Wonk: Comprehensive revenue package fails to get required supermajority in House

by | November 12th, 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.

Note: Due to an all staff conference and the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no Weekly Wonk for the next two weeks.  We will return to our regular schedule on December 3rd.

This Week from OK Policy

The legislature voted earlier this week on a comprehensive revenue package – Executive Director David Blatt argued that this was the last chance to make real progress on the structural budget deficit this special session. When that revenue package failed to receive the required 3/4 supermajority in the House, OK Policy issued a statement encouraging lawmakers to reconsider the measure. Blatt recapped the events of the week and explained what might happen now after the failure of the comprehensive revenue package.

Blatt’s Journal Record column offered an analogy for the legislature’s approach to funding core services – promise a sandwich, then report that they’re out of bread. An increase in the gross production tax rate could provide much needed funding, and Policy Director Gene Perry explained that it won’t hurt the economy or reduce drilling activity in Oklahoma. Perry also shared an analysis of the Republican tax plan currently under consideration by Congress – the plan would mean a tax hike on low- and moderate-income Oklahoma families by 2027.

OK Policy announced that there will be a staff change soon – Kara Joy McKee, our Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator, will be leaving us as she formally announces her campaign for public office.  KJ will be greatly missed and she leaves enormous shoes to fill.  We will soon begin our search for a new grassroots advocacy coordinator and hope to fill the position before the start of the legislative session in February.

OK Policy in the News

A survey measuring support for an increased gross production tax that was commissioned by OK Policy was referenced in two articles – Arnold Hamilton’s Journal Record column about the ballot initiative drive to raise the GPT and and Oklahoma Watch piece about the great sums of money likely to be spent on that effort.

Blatt spoke with Governing Magazine to shed some light on the rash of budget battles in one-party states this year. Perry was interviewed by Public Radio Tulsa about the GOP tax plan and – the plan will benefit wealthier Oklahomans more than the middle class or low-income families.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk: Comprehensive revenue package fails to get required supermajority in House

In The Know: Bill Passed To Raise Taxes On Older Oil Wells But Addiction Programs Could Still Be Cut

by | November 6th, 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.

Today In The News

Bill Passed To Raise Taxes On Older Oil Wells But Addiction Programs Could Still Be Cut: The state House of Representatives passed a bill raising the taxes on so called “Legacy” oil wells, but lawmakers still seem miles apart on a budget solution. [News9] Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy]

Special session produces first revenue measures: After agreeing on nothing for more than a month during its special session, the Oklahoma Legislature has sent one funding bill to Gov. Mary Fallin, and will likely send another soon. House Bill 1081 passed the House of Representatives 92-3 and appropriates $23 million from the Rainy Day Fund to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. [Tahlequah Daily News]

Funding Not Enough to Prevent Massive Cuts: Legislation that appropriates $23.3 million to Oklahoma’s mental health agency is headed to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk to be signed into law. The measure received final approval in the state Senate on Wednesday. [AP] Public Health In Question In Light Of Impending State Agency Cuts [NewsOn6] Lawmakers must use special session to fix the budget, not pass the buck [OK Policy]

continue reading In The Know: Bill Passed To Raise Taxes On Older Oil Wells But Addiction Programs Could Still Be Cut

The Weekly Wonk: Legislature will likely avoid doomsday, but won’t address chronic budget problems

by | November 3rd, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (1)

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

With the clock ticking on special session, Executive Director David Blatt posited that the most likely outcome will be a budget that averts a doomsday crisis of cuts but does nothing to addresss Oklahoma’s chronic budget problems. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update pointed out that most Oklahomans have been left guessing by the happenings thus far in this special session. A guest post by Shelley Cadamy explained one of the many consequences of the state budget crisis – cuts to support for adoptive parents.  High turnover among state workers is yet another consequence – as Blatt pointed out, the average pay of our state workers is now 24% below the competitive labor market and most state employees have not seen a pay increase in 10 years.

Blatt’s Journal Record column implored federal lawmakers to stop sabotaging the Affordable Care Act and allow the program to work.  For those who buy insurance coverage through the ACA, open enrollment for 2018 has begun.  Intern Lydia Lapidus walked us through the process of enrolling and pointed out some helpful resources for those needing help to make sure they’re covered next year.

Advocacy Alert

The legislature is still in special session and they still need to hear from you – revenues must be raised in order to adequately fund core services. Click here to see our Advocacy Alert and to find your legislators and to get more information. You can also check out our Special Session FAQs for updated information about what’s happening during the special session.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk: Legislature will likely avoid doomsday, but won’t address chronic budget problems

In The Know: With no budget deal, legislators ‘quickly exhausting all options’

by | October 30th, 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.

Today In The News

With no budget deal, legislators ‘quickly exhausting all options’: Legislative leaders Friday were scrambling to come up with a plan B as the fate of the state’s only real revenue-raising measure seemed increasingly uncertain. “At this point, there’s not a plan B or an option B, I would say,” state Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, who serves as the House’s budget chair, said Friday afternoon. [CNHI] Lawmakers must use special session to fix the budget, not pass the buck [OK Policy]

Budget bill dead after committee gavels out; could be brought back at later time: A compromise discussed in the House budget committee went nowhere Friday after a failed revenue-raising measure this week. House Bill 1054 was tied 11 to 11 before the committee officially gaveled out early Friday evening. [KFOR] House Democrats release compromise letter sent prior to failure of budget bill [KFOR] Votes on state budget fix called off Saturday as revenue proposals continue to divide Oklahoma lawmakers [Tulsa World]

After failing ‘miserably’ on tax-raising measure, state lawmakers move on to ‘Plan B’ with deep cuts: On to Plan B. The Oklahoma House of Representatives Appropriations Committee “failed miserably,” in the words of Gov. Mary Fallin, to move “Plan A” on Friday, leaving legislators with the grim prospect of whacking another $60 million to $100 million from appropriations and voting on a measure that would essentially impose an ungainly and sure-to-be unpopular sales tax on motor fuels. [Tulsa World] What happens ‘when push comes to shove’ on the budget [OK Policy]

continue reading In The Know: With no budget deal, legislators ‘quickly exhausting all options’

The Weekly Wonk: Lawmakers should listen to their constituents during this special session

by | October 29th, 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’s Journal Record Column encouraged legislators to listen to their constituents and restore the gross production tax to at least 5 percent as part of any budget deal during special session. OK Policy issued two statements this week about budget deals. On Monday, OK Policy argued that the Republican budget plan ignored obvious solutions to the state’s revenue crisis – that plan failed on Wednesday. On Thursday, OK Policy encouraged lawmakers to seriously consider a less-than-ideal compromise budget plan as, perhaps, the best possible outcome of this special session.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt was interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor for their story about the harmful effects of tax cuts and industry incentives on public services in Oklahoma.  The lack of a budget deal thus far in special session is not helping the crisis situation now being faced by some public service agencies. Blatt spoke with Public Radio Tulsa and Fox25 about the inadequacies of the Republican plan announced on Monday. And Blatt spoke with KTUL after that plan failed on Wednesday.

Policy Director Gene Perry criticized the cigarette-tax-only approach to addressing the budge hole in an interview with KTUL. And on a brighter note, Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison was quoted by the Oklahoman in their piece about signs of progress in occupational licensing reform.

Advocacy Alert

The legislature is still in special session and they still need to hear from you – revenues must be raised in order to adequately fund core services. Click here to see our Advocacy Alert to find your legislators and to get more information. You can also check out our Special Session FAQs for updated information about what’s happening during the special session.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk: Lawmakers should listen to their constituents during this special session

In The Know: Is there an end in sight for the legislative special session?

by | October 23rd, 2017 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (1)

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

Is there an end in sight for the legislative special session? Here is what has lawmakers frustrated: Two Tulsa-area Republicans say they are frustrated that the Legislature’s stalled special session isn’t moving ahead, and they say they are ready to vote for controversial changes to the state’s gross production tax if given the chance. Democratic House leaders say they think there are enough supporters — Republicans and Democrats — to get that idea across the finish line if House Speaker Charles McCall would put it to a vote. [Tulsa World] Secret votes and unwillingness to lead are prolonging Oklahoma’s budget stalemate [OK Policy] Lawmakers must use special session to fix the budget, not pass the buck [OK Policy]

Midwest City Police Chief: ‘We will be killing Oklahomans on a daily basis,’ one result of mental health and substance abuse treatment cuts: Violent crime will spike, and jails across Oklahoma will be overwhelmed in the aftermath of impending budget cuts to the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, law enforcement officials warned Wednesday. [The Oklahoman] An example of what abdication of duty produces [Editorial Board/The Oklahoman]

Outpatient services to be slashed amid budget shortfall: Officials announced Wednesday that they must gut mental health and substance abuse programs that serve hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans. Standing beneath a sign reading “Crisis Center,” Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Terri White said there’s no option left but to cut state funding for all outpatient services in order to fill her agency’s $75 million shortfall. [CNHI] OK House Speaker Tells State Agencies To Hold Off On Cuts [News9] Members will be called back to vote on short-term appropriations plan [Fox25]

continue reading In The Know: Is there an end in sight for the legislative special session?

The Weekly Wonk: Lawmakers should listen to Oklahoma voters and pass a comprehensive revenue plan

by | October 22nd, 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

Policy Director Gene Perry, in an editorial for The Oklahoman, urged lawmakers to listen to Oklahoma voters and pass a comprehensive revenue plan during special session that funds a teacher pay raise and core services. Perry also pointed out that Oklahoma taxes are the lowest in our region – we’ve slashed our revenue base by cutting income taxes and allowing tax breaks to grow. This lack of revenue makes budgeting a challenge, and Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update argues that a lack of leadership is making budget negotiations even more difficult during special session.

Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column made the case that DACA recipients should be allowed to stay in U.S. and be afforded a path to full citizenship. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison walked us through the new regulations for payday lenders issued this month by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and urged Congress not to block these new protections.

OK Policy in the News

Outreach & Advocacy Coordinator Kara Joy McKee spoke with Fox25 during the zombie march on the Capitol on Satuday. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler was inteviewed by Reveal News for a piece about rehab work camps and the piece of Oklahoma legislation that exempted some of them from state regulation. OK Policy data was used by the Tulsa World in a story about the importance of great teachers for student success.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk: Lawmakers should listen to Oklahoma voters and pass a comprehensive revenue plan

New protections for payday loan borrowers are coming (if Congress will stay out of the way)

After years of research and public consultation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau this month issued a final rule to create new protections for payday loan borrowers. These new protections are a necessary and positive first step in eliminating the debt trap that so often results from high-interest, predatory loans — and nowhere more than Oklahoma, where we have the highest payday loan usage rate in the nation.

The new protections won’t close off all access to expensive loans, but they will curb the practices most likely to catch borrowers in debt traps, with mounting fees and interest charges on loans they simply cannot afford to pay back.

But we’re not out of the woods quite yet.  This new rule could face strong opposition from the predatory loan industry and from Congress, and we must continue speaking out to ensure that these protections go into effect.

continue reading New protections for payday loan borrowers are coming (if Congress will stay out of the way)

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