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In The Know: Oklahoma approves tax deal but teachers vow to extend strike

by | April 9th, 2018 | 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. 

In The News

Oklahoma approves tax deal but teachers vow to extend strike: The Oklahoma Senate passed a $44 million revenue and tax package on Friday to fund the state’s public schools, but the amount fell short of new spending sought by teachers who walked out in protest of a decade of education budget cuts and low salaries. [Reuters] Oklahoma Senate passes online sales, ‘ball & dice’ bills; they now head to Governor’s office [KFOR]Everything you should know about Oklahoma’s special sessions [OK Policy]

Oklahoma lawmaker says eliminating capital gains deduction not likely: The state’s largest teachers union has demanded an elimination of the capital gains tax deduction to end the current teacher walkout, but a House leader doesn’t see that becoming a reality this year. [The Oklahoman]The real cost of the capital gains deduction could be much more than $100 million, but we have good options for reform [OK Policy]

The Ongoing Teacher Protest in Oklahoma: Educators in Oklahoma — among the lowest-paid in the nation — have joined a rebellion in several Republican-led states. A strike by West Virginia teachers inspired the movement, which also spread to Kentucky and Arizona. Here’s a look at what’s happened and what could lie ahead. [AP]State Funding Crisis and the Teacher Walkout: Resources & Information [OK Policy]

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The Weekly Wonk: There’s still work to be done to fully fund core state services

by | April 8th, 2018 | 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 on our blog and in his Journal Record column that the education funding package passed last week was a significant achievement, but cautioned that even more work will need to be done to fully resolve Oklahoma’s serious fiscal challenges. That funding package, HB 1010xx was passed during a concurrent special session – check out our Special Session FAQ’s for more information about how that works. And for more information about bills we’ll be watching next week, check out the most recent Bill Watch.

Director of Strategy & Communications Gene Perry shared more information about the capital gains deduction – it’s the most expensive tax incentive in the state, and there’s little to no evidence that it works to boost the economy. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison drew our attention to efforts to reform occupational licensing – we’ve seen recent signs of legislative progress on this issue. And Intern Annaly Sullivan cautioned us about SQ 794, also known as Marsy’s Law. This well-intentioned measure will appear on ballots this fall, and may result in some unintended consequences.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke with The Nation about the teacher-led walkout this week. Perry talked with The American Prospect the extent to which Oklahoma schools are underfunded. And OK Policy data on education funding was used by several media outlets this week including Newsweek, National ReviewQuartz, Christian Science Monitor, The GuardianKOCO,  and The New Republic.

Our work on removing the capital gains tax deduction also got a lot of attention this week. Blatt talked with CNHI and the Tulsa World and our statement on the issue appeared in a KFOR piece. Our social media infographics were part of a report by NonDoc.

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Bill Watch: Next week in #okleg | April 6, 2018

by | April 6th, 2018 | Posted in Bill Watch | Comments (0)

In our weekly Bill Watch post, we discuss what happened and what to look for in the bills we’re following most closely in the Oklahoma Legislature. Next Thursday (April 12th) is the deadline for House bills to make it through Senate committees and most Senate bills to make it through House committees. Bills assigned to the House Appropriations and Budget committee have until April 19th. See our advocacy alerts page for more ways to take action on these issues. 

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In The Know: Walkout continues, setting up ‘very important day’ in the senate

by | April 6th, 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

Walkout Continues, Setting up ‘Very Important Day’ in the Senate: The fourth day of a statewide teacher walkout and rally produced more calls for increased public school funding and inaction from state lawmakers. However, the day ended with the state Senate announcing it would hear three revenue-raising bills on Friday morning, potentially moving the walkout closer to an end and reopening hundreds of schools across the state [NewsOK]. Oklahoma Senate Leader to striking teachers: Don’t expect more education funding [Governing]. State Funding Crisis and the Teacher Walkout: Resources & Information [OKPolicy].  

Other State Workers Feel Ignored as Teacher Walkout Continues: The Oklahoma teacher walkout and educators’ demands for more school funding dominates the news. It’s unclear if lawmakers are willing to meet those demands and quell daily protests. One lingering question: If schools get more money, what happens to other state agencies and workers who need funding, too? [StateImpact]. Turnover of state workers climbing as their salaries fall further behind [OKPolicy]. 

The real cost of the capital gains deduction could be much more than $100 million, but we have good options for reform: The statute on Oklahoma’s capital gains deduction does allow it to be taken on corporate income. But a footnote in the Oklahoma Tax Commission’s report on tax expenditures explains that, “While some of these deductions and exemptions are available for both corporate and individual income tax filers, aggregate data for corporate filers is not available. The tax expenditure estimates in this report, for deductions and exemptions that are available for both corporate and individual filers, reflect only individual income tax due to the data limitation.” In other words, corporations can claim the capital gains deduction, but we have no idea how much that part of the tax break is costing the state [OKPolicy].

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The real cost of the capital gains deduction could be much more than $100 million, but we have good options for reform

by | April 5th, 2018 | Posted in Taxes | Comments (11)

Oklahoma’s capital gains deduction is the most expensive tax incentive in the state, according to reports from the Oklahoma Tax Commission. In 2015-2016, this deduction cost $105 million, and it led to an estimated $474 million in forgone tax revenues from 2010 to 2014. Despite this massive cost, economic development consultants working with the state’s Incentive Evaluation Commission (IEC) found that Oklahoma has little to no evidence that the incentive is working to boost the economy. IEC member and University of Oklahoma economist Cynthia Rogers found that two-thirds of the tax break is taken by just over 800 households with annual incomes above $1 million. 

All of that is true, and yet it actually may substantially understate both the cost of the capital gains deduction and its skewed distributional impact. The statute on Oklahoma’s capital gains deduction does allow it to be taken on corporate income. But a footnote in the Oklahoma Tax Commission’s report on tax expenditures explains that, “While some of these deductions and exemptions are available for both corporate and individual income tax filers, aggregate data for corporate filers is not available. The tax expenditure estimates in this report, for deductions and exemptions that are available for both corporate and individual filers, reflect only individual income tax due to the data limitation.”

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Marsy’s Law is well-intentioned, but be wary of unintended consequences

by | April 5th, 2018 | Posted in Criminal Justice | Comments (1)

Annaly Sullivan is an OK Policy intern. She is a recent graduate of the University ​of ​East ​Anglia with a masters in Impact Evaluation.

Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas was stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Released on bail before the trial began, Marsy’s killer sought out and confronted Marsy’s mother and brother, who had no idea he had been released. Outraged that crime victims and their families had no legal rights that could have prevented this situation, Marsy’s brother went on to campaign for expanded victims’ rights in California and across the US.

As a result, SQ 794, the Crime Victim Rights Amendment, will be on Oklahoma’s general election ballot on Nov. 6th, 2018. Proponents of the ballot measure, which is commonly known as Marsy’s Law, aim to give crime victims more say in the justice process. Marsy’s Law has already been adopted in several other states, and while the idea is broadly popular, it can bring significant challenges that Oklahomans should consider. While there may be value in creating further protections for crime victims, SQ 794 fails to address two major issues plaguing Marsy’s Law in other states: inadequate funding and questionable constitutionality.

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In The Know: Legislature begins moving on bills educators want but rules out capital gains tax increase

by | April 5th, 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

Legislature Begins Moving on Bills Educators Want but Rules out Capital Gains Tax Increase: The Oklahoma Legislature began moving on additional revenue Wednesday, with the House passing a $20.5 million internet sales tax measure and the Senate agreeing to bring a “ball-and-dice” gambling bill to the floor Thursday. A separate internet tax bill went through the House Appropriations and Budget Committee Wednesday night and appears headed for a floor vote Thursday or next week. That bill has already passed the Senate. The measures do not add up to the $120 million capital gains tax exemption some advocated, and they are a little more uncertain than the $45 million or so lost by the expected repeal of a lodging tax [Tulsa World]. High-earners’ tax break could be key to ending teacher walkout [Oklahoma Watch]. The capital gains tax break benefits a small number of households at the expense of most Oklahomans [OKPolicy]. 

Statement: Oklahoma Should Not Waste Millions on Capital Gains Tax Break to Protect Small Part That Might Benefit Agriculture: Oklahoma’s capitol gains deduction is poorly targeted and poorly monitored. This tax break was never intended or designed to support agriculture, and the five-year holding period for qualified property means that most cattle operators already do not qualify. Instead of helping ranchers or small family farmers, two-thirds of this deduction is taken by just over 800 wealthy households who have no responsibility to report how they use their benefit. The vast majority of Oklahomans in both rural and non-rural areas are not receiving any benefit from this costly tax break [OKPolicy].

We’re Hiring! Apply to Be an Operations & Development Associate or Summer Intern: OK Policy is seeking an experienced and effective Operations & Development Associate to provide support for our day-to-day operations, donor and grant management, and event coordination. We’re also accepting student applicants for paid part-time or full-time internships during the summer of 2018! [OKPolicy].

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We’re hiring! Apply to be an Operations & Development Associate or Summer Intern.

by | April 4th, 2018 | Posted in OK Policy | Comments (0)

OK Policy is seeking an experienced and effective Operations & Development Associate to provide support for our day-to-day operations, donor and grant management, and event coordination. This is a full-time position based in Tulsa. To learn more about the job duties and qualifications, compensation, and how to apply, see our job announcement here.

We’re also accepting student applicants for paid part-time or full-time internships during the summer of 2018! Interns have the opportunity to work as full members of the OK Policy team and participate in nearly all aspects of what we do. Intern tasks may include collecting data, conducting research, assisting with advocacy efforts, writing blog posts on state policy issues,  and helping to coordinate events including the 2018 Summer Policy Institute.

Interns will be based in our Tulsa office, with occasional opportunities to work from home or school. They will be expected to work between 15 and 40 hours per week, depending on their schedules and availability, and are paid $11 per hour.

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In The Know: Teachers pack Oklahoma Capitol; walkout shows no sign of ending

by | April 4th, 2018 | 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

Teachers pack Oklahoma Capitol; walkout shows no sign of ending: Oklahoma’s teacher walkout and Capitol protest showed no signs of stopping after a second day as thousands of teachers brought their fight for more state funding for public schools indoors. Protest chants filled the Capitol rotunda Tuesday as educators pressed lawmakers to take action on stalled-out measures that could bring in additional revenues for school operations [Tulsa World]. State Funding Crisis and the Teacher Walkout: Resources & Information [OK Policy].

Day Two draws more emotion: Last week, several officials said they believed the Oklahoma teacher walkout would last one day and serve more as a rally. That hasn’t been the case. If anything, Tuesday was more noteworthy than Monday. Unlike the first, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol shut access to the building because it was over capacity [Journal Record]. Educators chant, boo lawmakers after failing to hear capital gains tax measure [KFOR].

What’s the status of OEA’s three demands of the Oklahoma Legislature? The Oklahoma Education Association has listed three demands of the Legislature to call off the walkout that brought state teachers to the Capitol for a second day on Tuesday. Here is a look at where those demands stand [Tulsa World]. 

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The education funding package is a major step forward. There’s more work to do.

by | April 3rd, 2018 | Posted in Budget, Featured Budget & Tax, Taxes | Comments (3)

The Oklahoma Legislature last week passed a set of bills to provide pay raises to teachers, school support staff, and public employees funded primarily by a tax increase on tobacco, motor fuels, and gross production. Passage of the revenue bill was a truly landmark moment: it marked the first time that a major revenue bill has surpassed the three-quarters supermajority threshold for tax increases since passage of State Question 640 over a quarter-century ago, and it followed at least two years of intense but unsuccessful efforts to reach agreement on a grand bargain on the budget. More broadly, it signified a belated but clear recognition by Oklahoma lawmakers that renewed investment in education and other core services is critical for Oklahoma’s prosperity and requires significant new recurring revenue.

These bills mark a crucial step in tackling some of the state’s most urgent problems. But they in no way mark an end to the state’s budget challenges.  The new revenues fall short of fully funding new spending commitments. The state will also need additional revenue to balance this year’s budget and make greater investments in education and other needs in the future.

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