In The Know: Equalization board releases final budget figures, leaders disagree on what’s available | Would folks still pay sales tax on groceries if lawmakers cut the grocery sales tax? | Treat: ‘I was unaware that I was governor’ for a time last summer

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. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Statement: Eliminating the state portion of grocery sales tax isn’t the most effective way to deliver fiscal relief: For about half the cost of eliminating the state portion of the sales tax on groceries, our lawmakers can deliver targeted fiscal relief to nearly all taxpayers through the expanded Sales Tax Relief Credit. Given available options, eliminating the state portion of the sales tax on groceries is neither the most fiscally responsible way nor the most effective way to put money back in pockets of everyday Oklahomans. [OK Policy]

Fact check: Would Oklahomans still pay sales tax on groceries if lawmakers cut the grocery sales tax?: The most likely bills that lawmakers are considering for cutting the grocery sales tax only eliminate the state portion of the sales tax on groceries, which is 4.5 percent — or $3.83 on an $85 grocery bill. Under these measures, Oklahomans buying groceries would still be paying city sales/use taxes (up to 5.5 percent) and county sales taxes (up to 2.5 percent) depending on where they lived. Eliminating the states sales tax on groceries doesn’t mean getting rid of ALL sales taxes on groceries. [OK Policy]

State Government News

With FY 2025 revenue estimate up amid tax-cut talk, new budget process takes center stage: Despite hopes that today’s Oklahoma Board of Equalization meeting would put state leaders on the same page about revenue estimates and appropriation possibilities, not even a dozen pages of financial figures in 10-point font could form a clear fiscal picture in what could become another tumultuous legislative session. [NonDoc]

  • State revenue estimates good, but not good enough for two tax cuts, Senate leader says [The Oklahoman]
  • Stitt, Oklahoma lawmakers push for tax cuts following positive budget outlook [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Oklahoma lawmakers debate tax cuts as they decide how to dole out $11 billion [KOSU]
  • Proposed FY 2025 Revenue Certification [State Board of Equalization]

OK bill requiring the Governor to inform state leaders when leaving the state advances: After confusion over who was the Acting Governor following a disastrous storm in Tulsa last year, the Senate is pushing to mandate the Governor’s communication with state leaders. In June 2023, there was a period of nearly 24 hours when Oklahoma state leaders were not sure who was Acting Governor. [KFOR]

  • ‘I was unaware that I was Governor’: Senate Leader introduces bill on Governor absence [Fox 25]

Senators advance bill requiring safety courses for some Oklahoma youth sports coaches: A Senate panel on Thursday passed Senate Bill 1472 that would require a safety course for those coaching players ages 14 and younger on teams that play on public property. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma lawmakers advance bill allowing pharmacists to dispense certain contraceptives: A bill that would allow pharmacists to dispense certain types of birth control passed unanimously through the House Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday. [KGOU]

House bill heightens controversy over future OKC jail site: A state House bill that would affect the criteria Oklahoma County must meet when selecting a new jail site has lawmakers and Del City officials on high alert. [Journal Record]

This Week on Oklahoma Politics: ClassWallet lawsuit dropped, Swadley’s indictments, grocery sales tax and more (audio): The panel discusses the AG dropping a second lawsuit by Gov. Kevin Stitt over misspent COVID-19 education funds, a multicounty grand jury indicting three people with Swadley’s Bar-B-Q, and the grocery sales tax. [KOSU]

Health News

Integris data breach involved 2.4 million people, 90% of them Oklahomans, government says: As a potential class action lawsuit kicks off in federal court, Integris Health has told federal regulators that nearly 2.4 million individuals were affected by a data breach last year involving Social Security numbers and other personal information. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma remains among highest in nation in domestic violence homicides, report says: Domestic violence homicides in Oklahoma have decreased slightly, but the number of incidents remains among the highest in the nation, according to an annual report released by the Oklahoma Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma domestic violence homicides decrease but still exceed pre-pandemic average [Oklahoma Voice]

Economy & Business News

Half of small businesses have plans to expand in 2024, survey says: The small business sector is optimistic about the economy after ending 2023 on a high note, according to a new survey from American Express. Half the businesses surveyed have plans to expand throughout 2024. [Journal Record]

Education News

Hearing on proposed school accreditation rules from Ryan Walters draws only one speaker: Only one member of the public spoke on Thursday at an open hearing held by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The board was seeking comment on proposed new rules by state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters that would tie school accreditation to the academic performance of students. The hearing, required by law, was the first of four scheduled in the coming days over various proposals from Walters. Upcoming hearings will concern such issues as diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), teacher behavior and a “declaration of foundational values and principles of public education” for the state. [The Oklahoman]

  • Education Watch: Education Department Considering Stack of New Rules [Oklahoma Watch]

General News

Tulsa LGBTQ nonprofit nears fundraising goal, discusses financial struggles: A Tulsa nonprofit that serves the LGBTQ community and others appeared to be well on its way Wednesday to reaching a fundraising goal aimed at keeping its doors open. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: The Addiction Recovery Story We Don’t Hear Enough: Twenty women with felony records and a history of drug use are standing on the stage in a crowded auditorium in Tulsa, and the audience is rising in a standing ovation. The women are teary as they see the cops who arrested them, applauding wildly. It’s the happiest of graduations, and through the raucous cheering one glimpses a better way of dealing with drug and alcohol abuse. You see, against all odds, this is an uplifting article about America’s curse of addiction. [Nicholas Kristof / New York Times]

Quote of the Day

“Isn’t it funny we can’t even agree on math in this building?” 

-Gov. Kevin Stitt, commenting about differing interpretations about how much money is available for next year’s state budget. [NonDoc]

Number of the Day


Modernizing and expanding the Sales Tax Relief Credit — an existing credit that already helps offset some sales tax costs for low-income families —  would deliver 98.3% of its tax benefit to taxpayers making less than $76,000/year. [OK Policy]

Policy Note

More tax cuts put states’ revenue at risk: At least a dozen proposals for income tax cuts that would primarily benefit wealthy residents and big companies are already on the table for state legislatures to consider in 2024 — and more are likely to come. This follows on the heels of 26 states cutting their personal income tax rates, corporate income tax rates or both between 2021 and 2023, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank that focuses on policies’ effect on lower-income people. A Center for Public Integrity investigation found last year that conservative groups funded by rich political donors pushed these tax cuts in most states, and that temporary federal pandemic aid gave legislators cover to argue that there was plenty of revenue [Center for Public Integrity]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.