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In The Know Archives

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

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In The Know: ACLU warns of lawsuit over planned elimination of programs for disabled, elderly

by | November 10th, 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.

Today In The News

ACLU warns of lawsuit over planned elimination of programs for disabled, elderly: If a state agency does not rescind notices that programs serving more than 20,000 disabled and elderly Oklahomans will be eliminated, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma will respond with a lawsuit, a spokesman told The Frontier. The ACLU of Oklahoma plans to file a preliminary injunction next week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma to try to prevent the elimination of Oklahoma Department of Human Services programs, said Brady Henderson, legal director of the organization [The Frontier]. Care for seniors, people with disabilities at risk as DHS grapples with budget shortfall [OK Policy].

Stars not quite in alignment for latest state budget bill: State Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, had a lot of angry messages waiting for him Thursday morning. O’Donnell voted against revenue-raising House Bill 1054 on Wednesday, and people wanted to know why. “It was just a constellation of factors,” he said. A black hole at the center of that constellation sucked in what may have been the last chance for a meaningful revenue bill during this special legislative session [Tulsa World]. Lawmakers should respect wishes of the majority and pass revenue deal [OK Policy]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy].

Day after failed vote, Oklahoma Medicaid agency cuts rates: Less than 24 hours after the Oklahoma House of Representatives failed to approve the year’s best chance at a grand revenue bill, the Oklahoma Medicaid agency has approved $34.5 million in reimbursement cuts. Payment reductions include 4 percent cuts to nursing homes and care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, as well as a 9 percent across-the-board cut for SoonerCare beneficiaries, with some exclusions [NonDoc]. Tina Seiler wept as she begged the Oklahoma Health Care Authority not cut funding for the Moore facility where she lives [NewsOK].

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In The Know: Big revenue bill goes down in the Oklahoma House

by | November 9th, 2017 | 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.

Today In The News

Big revenue bill goes down in the Oklahoma House: Despite bipartisan support from the Oklahoma Senate, endorsements from two former Democratic governors, backing from Gov. Mary Fallin and pleas from dozens of advocacy organizations, the Oklahoma House of Representatives failed to pass a grand revenue bill this afternoon. Members voted 71-27 for HB 1054X, but that fell short of the 76 votes necessary for revenue-raising measures under the Oklahoma Constitution [NonDoc]. In the end, the backing of more than 45 health-care, education and public-policy advocacy groups – along with the support of a bipartisan group of current and former state leaders – wasn’t enough Wednesday [Oklahoma Watch]. Lawmakers should respect wishes of the majority and pass revenue deal [OK Policy]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy].

Tulsa Elderly, Disabled Fear Losing Vital Assistance With DHS Cuts: In the wake of the Oklahoma budget failing, many programs will be eliminated if lawmakers can’t find funding sources to fill the gap. Thousands of people who are part of the Department of Human Services’ ADvantage program are getting nervous as we get closer to Dec. 1. The program helps connect seniors and people with disabilities with services so they can maintain their independence [NewsOn6].

Cutting Mental Health budgets will increase jail costs: As budgets and services are cut, law enforcement agencies find themselves taking on additional roles in order to meet the needs of the communities we serve. Due to an already dire shortage of mental health services, the Tulsa County jail is now the largest mental health facility in the state of Oklahoma. The mental health services provided to our inmates are not meant for long-term treatment [Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado / Tulsa World].

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In The Know: House committee approves revived revenue package including rise in GPT

by | November 8th, 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.

Today In The News

House committee approves revived revenue package including rise in GPT: An Oklahoma House committee has approved a revived revenue bill that includes a rise in the gross production tax. The Oklahoma House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget revived HB 1054X Tuesday which includes a $1.50 cigarette tax increase, a six cent fuel tax increase, an alcohol consumption tax and an increase in the Gross Production Tax. The bill puts an increase of the tax of four percent for 36 months on new wells and two percent on legacy wells [KOKH]. The measure, known as House Bill 1054, is identical to House Bill 1035, a measure advanced by the Senate on Monday as the “last chance” before budget cuts are necessary [NewsOK]. Early counts suggest the revenue bill may lack enough bipartisan support [CNHI]. 

This is Oklahoma’s last chance: Yesterday, the State Senate passed with a bipartisan vote of 37-5 a revised version of HB 1035 which includes a $1.50 cigarette tax increase, a 6 cent fuel tax increase, and a 4 percent gross production tax on new wells. This comprehensive revenue plan, also dubbed Plan A+ or the “Grand Bargain”, now goes back to the House, where it must pass with a three-quarters majority to take effect in time to save lives threatened by the state’s budget emergency [OK Policy]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy].

‘Put it on the board’: How the year’s biggest vote could shape up: The 2017 Oklahoma Legislature has taken no bigger swing at a “grand bargain” than the vote that will be coming Wednesday in the House of Representatives — a doubling of the gross production tax rate on new wells, plus consumption taxes that will raise hundreds of millions of dollars in coming years. Passing such a measure would allow for a $3,000 teacher raise and a $1,000 state employee raise, if all goes to purported plan [NonDoc]. The ‘Grand Bargain’ offers Legislature a chance … if Speaker McCall can get the votes [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

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In The Know: Senate passes GPT bargain, puts pressure on House

by | November 7th, 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.

Today In The News

‘A path forward’: Senate passes GPT bargain, puts pressure on House: In an unexpected turn of events, the Oklahoma State Senate passed a bipartisan grand revenue bargain this afternoon that includes a hike in the gross production tax incentive rate from 2 to 4 percent. The bill passed 37 to 5, achieving the necessary three-fourths majority for revenue-raising measures. The Senate convened shortly after 4 p.m. Monday to take up HB 1035, which they amended in a manner to make it like HB 1034, the “grand bargain” revenue bill featuring GPT that stalled in a House committee in late October [NonDoc]. The measure’s passage came on the same day that House Speaker Charles McCall blamed the Senate for inaction during special session [KOKH]. Governor Fallin applauds Senate revenue package, urges action from House [KOKH]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy]. Lawmakers must use special session to fix the budget, not pass the buck [OK Policy].

Reality Check: Restoring Oklahoma’s Gross Production Tax won’t hurt the economy: In a recent editorial, The Oklahoman newspaper accused critics of Oklahoma’s huge tax breaks for the oil and gas industry of ignoring reality. They wrote that the claim that oil and gas companies pay far less taxes in Oklahoma than in other states is “false upon inspection.” They go on to claim that removing the tax break would push investment out of Oklahoma. However, to justify their argument, The Oklahoman makes deeply flawed assumptions about Oklahoma’s taxes and the role of those taxes in decisions about drilling. Here are the facts [OK Policy].

New Oklahoma Health Department Leader Says Finances Grim: The temporary new leader of the Oklahoma State Department of Health says the agency is suffering from financial mismanagement that stretches back more than five years and needs an immediate infusion of cash from the Legislature just to meet payroll for the next few months. Gov. Mary Fallin’s top finance official, Secretary of Finance and Revenue Preston Doerflinger (DOR’-fling-ur), delivered the grim financial picture and asked the Legislature for an emergency $30 million appropriation during a briefing on Monday at the Cleveland County Health Department in Norman [AP].

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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]

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In The Know: DHS ADvantage Waiver members receive notification of program elimination

by | November 3rd, 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.

Today In The News

DHS ADvantage Waiver members receive notification of program elimination: Concern has turned into sheer panic after the Department of Human Services mailed a letter this week to members of the ADvantage Waiver program warning them that without state funding, the program would be eliminated. “It says, ‘We regret to inform you that DHS must eliminate the ADvantage Waiver effective December 1, 2017,’” said Andre Dewberry, whose 68-year-old mother is an ADvantage member. It’s the notification he and numerous other Oklahomans hoped would never come [KOKH].

Questions Deepen over Cash Shortfall at State Health Department: The Oklahoma State Department of Health went more than a year without a chief financial officer, and questions later arose about whether the agency overestimated revenues and used restricted federal funds to fill the gaps, sources told Oklahoma Watch. However, a former chief financial officer at the agency said he had no knowledge of restricted funds being used to cover shortfalls. Complicating the agency’s finances was a struggle by state information technology officials to reconcile the health department’s internal financial system with the state’s consolidated system, the former CFO said [Oklahoma Watch].

Oklahoma State Health Department budget gap grows to $30 million: The Oklahoma Health Department has a funding gap of at least $30 million and eventually won’t be able to pay employees unless it receives an injection of cash from the Legislature, its new leader told employees Thursday. In an emotional, two-hour meeting with Health Department workers, Interim Health Commissioner Preston Doerflinger described the situation as “desperate.” [NewsOK].

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In The Know: Senate sends Fallin bill to tap Rainy Day Fund for $23 million

by | November 2nd, 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.

Today In The News

Senate sends Fallin bill to tap Rainy Day Fund for $23 million: The Senate on Wednesday sent Gov. Mary Fallin a bill to tap the Rainy Day Fund for $23.3 million to go to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The measure, House Bill 1081, passed by a vote of 36-1. It is the first bill of the special session to make it to the governor’s desk. Fallin called lawmakers into special session on Sept. 25 after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled lawmakers illegally passed a $1.50 cigarette tax as a fee, tossing out the measure [Tulsa World]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy].

Oklahoma House Raises Oil, Gas Production Tax on Some Wells: The Oklahoma House has approved a measure to increase the gross production tax on oil and gas to 7 percent for some wells after defeating a proposal to impose the maximum 7 percent rate on all wells. The House approved the measure Wednesday on a 64-31 vote. The Republican-controlled chamber tabled attempts by Democrats to raise the gross production tax for all wells as high as 7 percent [AP]. Lawmakers have good revenue options for special session if they have the will to use them [OK Policy].

Without a state budget solution, funding cuts pose challenges for mental health consumers, their families and local agencies: When the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services leaders announced that the state agency must shed 23 percent of its budget — $75 million — effectively eliminating all outpatient services by early December, Jeanette Moore and her staff began the harder work. As executive director of Hope Community Services Inc., one of the state’s 15 community mental health centers, Moore delivered the news that 4,439 clients — called consumers in the mental health field — might lose access to case management, therapy and other programs they rely on for their health [Oklahoma Gazette]. DHS sends letters to seniors, disabled adults notifying of home-care program elimination [The Frontier] Care for seniors, people with disabilities at risk as DHS grapples with budget shortfall [OK Policy].

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In The Know: House weighs $1,000 teacher raises

by | November 1st, 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.

Today In The News

House weighs $1,000 teacher raises: Education advocates on Tuesday said a legislative proposal awarding teachers a $1,000 raise could ultimately be viewed as a slap in the face and push more educators out of Oklahoma classrooms. “That is not enough to incentivize future teachers or current teachers,” said Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, after a House committee pushed a plan forward that would also give classroom support professionals a raise. A $1,000 raise would cost as much as $60 million a year, budget officials said [CNHI]. House lawmakers advanced familiar measures Tuesday but didn’t consider a Rainy Day Fund spending bill approved by the Senate a day earlier [NewsOK].

Legislature drills down into details on revenue-raising measures: The Oklahoma Legislature can’t seem to compromise on a bipartisan budget bill. So top officials are homing in on one portion of oil and gas wells from which to raise revenue. House Republicans introduced a bill that would raise rates on a small subset of existing wells. Previous attempts in the special session to raise gross production taxes to 4 percent on all new wells failed. Legislators were unsuccessful in advancing a $3,000 teacher pay raise [Journal Record]. Lawmakers have good revenue options for special session if they have the will to use them [OK Policy].

Legislature devolves from solutions to blame-game politics: Members of the Oklahoma Legislature seem to have given up on solving the state’s problems and have moved on to their more natural strengths: denial, projection, partisan bickering and blame-game politics. Last week, there was hope. Gov. Mary Fallin, Speaker of the House Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz unveiled a plan to raise cigarette, fuel and alcoholic beverage taxes and use the money to plug the state’s $215 million budget hole, give teachers a $3,000 pay raise, recreate the state’s earned income tax credit for working poor parents and improve the state’s future fiscal structure [Editorial Writers / Tulsa World].

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In The Know: House, Senate vote to ‘stop the bleeding,’ but gap remains

by | October 31st, 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.

Today In The News

House, Senate vote to ‘stop the bleeding,’ but gap remains: The Oklahoma House advanced several funding measures Monday for the state’s three major health care agencies, but the money won’t be enough to fill the $215 million shortfall that triggered a special session. A funding gap will remain, but the money is reportedly enough to keep the agencies afloat until April 21, well after lawmakers return in February for regular session. The bills now move on to the Senate. They can be heard as early as Wednesday [NewsOK]. Lawmakers must use special session to fix the budget, not pass the buck [OK Policy].

State Health Department Head, Deputy Resign Amid Questions Over Agency Finances: The top official and a senior deputy at the Oklahoma State Department of Health have resigned amid findings that the agency overspent and mismanaged finances for years. In an emergency meeting Monday night, the Oklahoma State Board of Health accepted the resignations of Health Commissioner Terry Cline and Senior Deputy Commissioner Julie Cox-Kain, effective immediately. The department is grappling with an unexplained $10 million cash crunch, recently implementing furloughs and program cuts and announcing layoffs [Oklahoma Watch].

Thousands fear impact of looming DHS cuts: There is no prejudice when it comes to the number of Oklahomans who would be directly impacted by cuts at the Department of Human Services. As state lawmakers met for yet another day of debate Monday, they were met with watchful eyes. Estelle Chappell currently receives assistance through the Daily Living Center. “At the Daily Living Center we have different activities and we go to different places and do things,” said Chappell. “And we’re in touch with somebody else in the same shape we’re in.” But all of that could cease to exist if a budget deal isn’t reached. And it will impact everyone, young and old [KOKH].

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