In The Know: Economists at Chamber forum say don't end the income tax

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that all three economists speaking at a forum hosted by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce cast doubt on the idea that Oklahoma should cut the income tax. State Impact Oklahoma summarizes nine recommendations likely to come out of the tax credit task force. OK Policy previously made recommendations for tax incentive reform in a column for Oklahoma Watch. The OK Policy Blog features a video from Oklahoma Watch on overcrowding in Oklahoma prisons.

Rep. Jason Murphey is pushing to end the legislature’s exemption from the Open Meetings Act. State employees in agencies where information technology services have been consolidated will be blocked from visiting or receiving e-mail from unapproved websites. El Reno officials will reassess how to go forward after a major school bond proposal got a majority but not the 60 percent required to pass.

The director of a drug counseling organization said Oklahoma’s methadone clinics are being underused because of “bad press” and a lack of education about methadone. The Oklahoma Secretary of Veteran Affairs Rita Aragon writes about the need to open schools as community centers after hours to improve Oklahomans’ health. NewsOK writes that improving the child welfare system is the most important issue facing Oklahoma.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahoma small businesses owned by veterans. In today’s Policy Note, a report from the American Immigration Council answers some basic questions about the role of immigration in today’s economy.

In The News

Eliminating state income tax difficult, economists say

A proposal to eliminate the state income tax would likely produce higher property taxes, and that won’t make Oklahomans happy, three economic professors said Wednesday. “We hate property taxes in this state,” said Robert Dauffenbach, director of the Center for Economic and Managerial Research at the University of Oklahoma. Dauffenbach, along with Oklahoma City University’s Russell Evans and Mickey Hepner of the University of Central Oklahoma, discussed economic matters during a forum hosted by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. Dauffenbach noted that $3 of every $8 in state revenue comes from income taxes. “Pardon the facts, but I don’t really see how we can get from here to there,” he said.

Read more from NewsOK.

The tax credit task force’s nine part plan

The tax credit task force is winding down. On Wednesday, the panel discussed its final report and the criteria by which it would evaluate tax credits and economic incentives, which are estimated to cost the state between $250 million and $500 million in revenue each year. State Rep. David Dank, who co-chairs the Task Force for the Study of State Tax Credits and Economic Incentives, listed nine ideas for the panel’s final report, the content of which will be voted upon at the task force’s Nov. 30 meeting. Task force members took turns offering up ideas for the final report, but the bulk of the suggestions mirrored Dank’s.

Read more from State Impact Oklahoma.

Previously: Keeping tabs on Oklahoma tax breaks from Oklahoma Watch

Watch This: Packed Oklahoma prisons, rising costs

Oklahoma Watch has an excellent series on their Youtube channel examining incarceration in Oklahoma, with a particular emphasis on female incarceration. The videos explore themes like overcrowding, substance abuse and domestic violence, and reentry after incarceration. Oklahoma Watch is a non-profit investigative reporting team and we’re impressed with their thorough and thoughtful approach to covering corrections. Incarcerations’ impact on the state budget is not a small one; 7.1 percent of appropriations go to the Department of Corrections each year.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Lawmaker touts proposal to end legislative exemption to Open Meetings Act

The Oklahoma Legislature should be held to the same standards as other governmental agencies and not be exempt from the state’s Open Meeting and Open Records acts, a state lawmaker said on Thursday. State Rep. Jason Murphey, the chairman of the House Modernization Committee, conducted an interim study on his bill introduced last session that never emerged from a House committee. The Guthrie Republican praised House Speaker Kris Steele for changes to the legislative process to improve transparency, such as requiring conference committees to meet publicly, but said more changes are needed. Murphey’s bill would require all legislative meetings and records to be open to the public, with the exception of personal communications between a legislator and their constituents. Such a proposal would help to improve the public’s trust of the Legislature, he said.

Read more from The Associated Press.

State IT consolidation blocks unapproved e-mails, websites for public employees

State employees in agencies where information technology services have been consolidated no longer will be able to play social media games and go to unapproved websites, lawmakers were told Thursday. The software also blocks emails from questionable websites, Pettit said. “It prevents people from getting the things that are not state-business oriented,” he said. Pettit oversees the state finance office’s information services division that this year began taking over the computer services and employees involved in most agencies’ information technology services. The State Regents for Higher Education are exempt; several state agencies are trying to be excluded from the law. Pettit said he worked first with agencies that volunteered to have their information technology services consolidated. About 30 of the state’s 132 agencies have had their services consolidated, another seven are in the process and three more are beginning efforts.

Read more from NewsOK.

After El Reno school project defeat, officials go back to the drawing board

Officials are disappointed but not resigned to the fact voters defeated a $44.5 million plan to build a new high school. Slightly more than half of the voters favored the plan, but Oklahoma law requires a 60 percent majority for a school bond issue to pass. Tippens said some people opposed the tax increase, but concerns about traffic and an airstrip near the location of the proposed high school may have played a role in the bond’s defeat. El Reno City Manager Tony Rivera said he hopes the failed school bond proposal was the result of concerns over specifics of the project and not a statement about the community’s willingness to invest in schools.

Read more from NewsOK.

Methadone clinics underused due to bad press, expert says

With tens of thousands of Oklahomans struggling with addictions to opiate-based drugs such as OxyContin, heroin and hydrocodone, Cross said it’s a shame more people don’t seek treatment at methadone clinics. Dan Cross is the new executive director of Absentee Shawnee Counseling Services, which is situated in a converted building about a quarter mile off Interstate 35 on SE 59. A growing form of treatment both nationally and here in Oklahoma, Cross believes methadone maintenance programs have been the victims of “bad press” and a lack of education. Most employers also consider having methadone in your system grounds for failing a drug test, and the state doesn’t reimburse patients like it does in other cases where medication is used as a form of treatment.

Read more from NewsOK.

Shared-use schools can help battle obesity

As a proud member of our nation’s military, enlisting in the Oklahoma Air National Guard in 1979, and as a volunteer for the American Heart Association, I am deeply concerned about the obesity epidemic facing America’s young people. Recently, an organization of retired senior military leaders issued a report warning Congress that obesity had become so severe in the United States that it was hampering military recruiting. At least 9 million 17- to 24-year-olds are too fat to serve in the military. One solution is shared-use agreements, which allow schools to open their facilities to the community after the last bell rings. Every community has a nearby school – even poor communities that don’t have private gyms, parks or even sidewalks.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

NewsOK: State, individuals have no greater duty than to protect children

In a few months’ time, Oklahomans will be hearing every day about the latest legislative rumblings. Tax credits. Collective bargaining. Water rights. Immigration. All are important issues. But they mean nothing if we can’t figure out a way to save our kids. Story after story continues to pour out about the gaping holes in an Oklahoma child welfare system that’s supposed to be a safety net for vulnerable children. What happens when people stop trusting the system and its people to do what’s best for children? We’re concerned that people aware of abuse or neglect won’t report their concerns out of fear those concerns won’t be addressed or that if they are, putting children into the system might be more dangerous than those they face at home. Oklahomans very much appreciate the child welfare workers who toil every day to protect vulnerable children. They deserve better, too, than a system that makes it difficult for them to do their jobs well.

Read more from NewsOK.

Quote of the Day

I think often when we talk about tax reform, it’s code for tax cuts, which is not really fiscal reform. I think it looks at one angle without really looking at the big picture.
Russell Evans, executive director of OCU’s Steven C. Agee Economic Research and Policy Institute

Number of the Day

10.4 percent

Percentage of Oklahoma small businesses (<500 employees) owned by veterans, compared to 9 percent nationally, 2007

Source:  Small Business Administration

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The role of immigration in a 21st Century economy

There is plenty of evidence that immigration helps to fuel the U.S. economy, just as it has throughout our history. Immigrants continue to play an important role in the economy as workers, entrepreneurs, taxpayers, and consumers. However, most observers agree that our current immigration system is outdated and dysfunctional, making it more difficult for the U.S. to compete in the global marketplace. The last time Congress made significant changes to the employment-based immigration system was 1990, when the Immigration Act of 1990 created the five-tiered employment-based immigration system and the numerical limits used today. Our immigration system needs to be updated and overhauled, but inflamed rhetoric often obscures reform efforts.

Read more from the American Immigration Council.

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.