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All articles by Jessica Vazquez

In The Know: Senate approval sends budget-cutting bill to governor’s desk

by | February 22nd, 2018 | Posted in 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.

In The News

Senate approval sends budget-cutting bill to governor’s desk: A bill that would cut state agency budgets by nearly 2 percent is headed to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk. Fallin is expected to sign House Bill 1020 to shore up the fiscal year 2018 budget. The Senate on Wednesday voted 29-12 to approve the measure, despite debate from Senate Minority Leader John Sparks, D-Norman. If signed by the governor, agencies will take the reductions each month through June to save about $45 million. [Tulsa World]

Medical schools wait for funding resolution: Oklahoma’s two medical schools will have to wait a little longer for the supplemental funding they need to keep their doors open. After a dispute with the federal agency that oversees Medicaid, the two schools lost more than $30 million for fiscal 2018, which ends in June. The Legislature has partially passed a bill that would replace that money and ensure that the state would pay $110 million for next year. House Bill 1022 made it through appropriations and budget committees in each chamber and passed off the House floor. However, the Senate has held the bill because of legal concerns. [Journal Record]

Prosperity Policy: Let’s make a(nother) deal: Last week’s vote on House Bill 1033, the main revenue bill based on proposals from the Step Up Oklahoma coalition, seemed to many to be the best and last chance to raise enough revenue to stabilize the budget and provide a significant raise for teachers and, perhaps, state employees. Despite intense lobbying from influential constituencies, including teachers, health care providers, tribal governments, and the business community, the bill failed to gain the three-quarters support in the House needed to pass a revenue bill. [David Blatt/Journal Record].

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In The Know: Revenue numbers show mixed bag for Oklahoma budget

by | February 21st, 2018 | 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.

In The News

Revenue Numbers Show Mixed Bag for Oklahoma Budget: Revenue collections continue to climb as Oklahoma emerges from an economic recession, but the Legislature still will have a $167 million hole to fill in next year’s budget because of increasing obligations, according to figures a key state budget panel approved Tuesday. The Board of Equalization, led by Gov. Mary Fallin, authorized $7 billion for the Legislature to spend on the new fiscal year that begins July 1. That’s an increase of $104 million over what was appropriated on the current year’s budget. But Fallin noted that increase doesn’t include about $270 million in new obligations for next year, including $110 million to cover a loss of federal funding for the state’s two medical schools. [Associated Press]

Oklahoma Legislature Finishing Budget 8 Months After It Started: The sometimes-raucous Oklahoma House of Representatives quietly closed the latest chapter on a political saga that’s gripped Oklahomans for months with a vote Monday to cut spending by another $44.7 million. After all the negotiations, late-night meetings and proposals to cover spending priorities set back in May, both Republicans and Democrats said the outcome isn’t ideal. But the vote — eight months in the making — is the one that will let agencies and legislative leaders turn their focus to the next budget cycle that begins July 1 [NewsOK]. Public Schools Bracing for Another Round of Midyear Budget Reductions, to the Tune of $16.2 Million [Tulsa World].

Legislature Moves Toward Ending Oklahoma’s Capital Gains Tax Break:  The days may be numbered for a costly tax incentive largely used by wealthy Oklahomans. Sen. Dave Rader said Oklahoma’s capital gains income tax deduction isn’t benefiting the state. “In five years from 2010 to 2014, the deduction brought a positive value to the state of $9 million but yet was a negative to $474 million to the state,” Rader said, citing a study done for the Oklahoma Incentive Evaluation Commission [Public Radio Tulsa]. In a recent report, Oklahoma was ranked among the top 10 states for lowest taxes [Tulsa World]. Research has found no connection between lower capital gains taxes and economic growth [OK Policy].

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In The Know: State Auditor and House Democrats unveil compromise budget plan

by | February 16th, 2018 | 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.

In The News

Oklahoma State Auditor unveils compromise plan to state’s budget woes: The Oklahoma State Auditor has proposed a compromise to the state’s budget woes. State Auditor Gary Jones announced the compromise Feb. 15 alongside the House Democrats, who endorsed the plan. Jones’ plan includes an increase in the oil and gas gross production tax to five percent for the first 36 months, a 75 cent tax on cigarettes and little cigars, a three cent tax on gasoline and a six cent tax on diesel. “This proposal will generate approximately $448 million in revenue and is sufficient to fund a $5,000 pay raise for teachers and raises for state employees,” Jones said. “To make this happen, both sides are being asked to give a little” [FOX25]. Oklahoma House Democrats rally behind auditor’s budget proposal [Public Radio Tulsa].

State agencies to be cut by nearly 2 percent each month through June: After years of budget-slashing, state agencies will be required to cut monthly spending nearly 2 percent more for the remaining four months of the 2018 fiscal year under a measure passed Thursday by a Senate and House joint committee. The measure is expected to be heard on the House and Senate floors next week. Meeting separately, the House and Senate members of the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget agreed to House Bill 1020. The move follows Monday’s failure in the House of a $581.5 million revenue bill that would have paid for a $5,000 teacher pay raise and freed reserve funds to close the FY 2018 budget shortage. The cuts approved Thursday will free up about $44 million, said Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Kim David, R-Porter [Tulsa World]. State agencies bracing for ‘disheartening’ cuts [Enid News & Eagle].

Group ready to move forward to fund Oklahoma education: A group wanting to raise gross production taxes is gearing up after the failure of Step Up Oklahoma. Restore Oklahoma Now is proposing State Question 795 to raise GPT to 7% which will bring in an extra $288 million with most of that going to common education. Executive Director Mickey Thompson says he delayed pushing forward while Step Up Oklahoma worked its way through the State Capitol [KOSU].

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In The Know: With Step Up failure, budget cuts loom again

by | February 15th, 2018 | 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.

Today In The News

With Step Up failure, budget cuts loom again: If Oklahoma state agencies have to make the cuts under consideration, they’ll seem three times as steep, so some officials are taking precautions now. On Monday, the House of Representatives failed to pass House Bill 1033, one of the major funding components within the Step Up Oklahoma plan. The measure contained several tax increases that would have helped lawmakers plug the roughly $90 million budget hole that remains for fiscal 2018. Top Republicans said that plan was the state’s final opportunity to raise revenue before cuts became inevitable. House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols said Tuesday the Legislature could work with the executive branch to find about $50 million in cash resources, and members would likely have to authorize between $40 million and $45 million in cuts [Journal Record]. 

Lunch shaming is real – but we can end it (Guest Post: Effie Craven): Imagine you are a child waiting in the school lunch line with your friends. You laugh and joke as you move through the line and get your trays, enjoying the break from class. But when you get to the cashier and scan your meal card, there is not enough money for your lunch. Your tray is taken from you – your hot meal is thrown away and replaced by a cheese sandwich as your classmates look on. Practices like this, known as lunch shaming, are all too common in schools [OK Policy].

Teacher writes honest open letter to Oklahoma Legislature: A local teacher wrote an honest open letter to the Oklahoma Legislature after a $581 tax bill that would have given teachers a raise failed. On Monday, House Bill 1033, part of the Step Up Oklahoma, remained at 63-35 for hours. The measure would impose additional taxes on tobacco, diesel fuel and wind energy. It would also raise the gross production tax (GPT) on all wells from 2 percent to 4 percent. In order to pass the House, it needed 76 votes [KFOR News].

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In The Know: Step Up Oklahoma revenue plan takes a step forward

by | February 9th, 2018 | 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.

Today In The News

Step Up Oklahoma revenue plan takes a step forward: The Step Up Oklahoma revenue plan took a step forward just before noon today. Multiple bills cleared the House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget, including an 83-page bill that could create $581 million for Fiscal Year 2019 if it passes the full House and the Senate next week. That, however, will be no easy task, as five of the seven Democrats on the House committee voted against the major tax proposal, which mirrors the major revenue bill that fell five votes short in November, with two primary differences. [NonDoc]

Changes to Step Up income tax plan will bolster working families: Oklahoma Policy Institute Executive Director David Blatt released the following statement on the amendment to HB 1037, the income tax component of the Step Up Oklahoma plan, which passed out of House committee today: The move to restore Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit and other changes in this amendment will make it easier for low- and middle-income Oklahomans to support themselves and their families. [OKPolicy]

Don’t ask Oklahomans to step down from guiding state agencies (Guest post: RoseAnn Duplan, Wanda Felty, and Erin Taylor): As parents of adult children with developmental disabilities, we’ve earned seven decades of experience. We’re familiar with programs and supports other families rarely need: TEFRA, assistive technology, and Medicaid waivers, to name just a few. As family advocates, we’ve served on numerous oversight bodies evaluating state policies that serve family members like ours. Boards and commissions afford consumers of agency services some decision-making influence. Yet, as early as this week, legislators are poised to hear a special session bill, HB 1027XX, that would eliminate boards and commissions at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OKHCA), Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuses Services (ODMHSAS), and several other agencies. [OK Policy]

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