In The Know: Gov. Fallin proposes eliminating income tax

In 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.

 Gov. Mary Fallin told reporters that details of her plan to gradually eliminate the income tax in Oklahoma would be announced on Monday.  OK Policy explained why repealing or reducing the state income tax is ill-advised.  Anticipated revenue from taxes on natural gas production will be much lower-than-expected this year due to extremely low natural gas prices.

National employment grew at the fastest pace in nine months, adding 243,000 jobs and bringing the unemployment rate to a near three-year low.  Over a dozen school districts in eastern Oklahoma met with lawmakers to discuss abandoning the new high-stakes graduation tests.  The OK Policy Blog hosts a short video about ‘community schools,’ a comprehensive approach to education that makes the school the hub of the community.

The governor and legislative leadership support a bond issue to pay for $140 million in repairs to the century-old State Capitol.  Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele supports requiring the legislature to be subject to the Open Records and Open Meetings Act.  In today’s Policy Note, Bloomberg Businessweek reports on falling premiums for Medicare Advantage, a private health insurance option for Medicare beneficiaries.  Today’s Number of the Day is Oklahoma’s rank among the states in percentage of households with no computer in their home.

In The News

Oklahoma income tax plan to reduce brackets, says Gov. Mary Fallin

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin told reporters she will release details of her income tax plan during her State of the State speech to returning legislators Monday.  She says her plan would gradually eliminate the income tax without starving funding for essential government services and that it would be a “game-changer” for improving the state’s business climate.

Read more from NewsOK at

Natural gas tax revenue drops in Oklahoma

State Treasurer Ken Miller said Thursday that lower-than-expected revenue from gross production taxes could affect how much the Legislature has to spend in the upcoming session.  The December preliminary estimate was based on natural gas at $4 per thousand cubic feet, but prices are in the $2.50 range this week with little improvement anticipated in fiscal 2013, Miller said.  “Most forecasts show prices will remain low for quite some time,” he said.

Job growth surges, jobless rate drops to 8.3 percent

The economy created jobs at the fastest pace in nine months in January and the unemployment rate dropped to a near three-year low of 8.3 percent, providing some measure of comfort for President Barack Obama who faces re-election in November.  Nonfarm payrolls jumped 243,000, the Labor Department said on Friday, as factory jobs grew by the most in a year. The gain in overall employment was the largest since April and outpaced economists’ expectations for a rise of only 150,000.

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Oklahoma School Districts Meet To Discuss Dumping Graduation Test

A broad group of school districts met in Muskogee Thursday night to support rolling back a new standard for high school graduation: a test to measure what they’ve learned.  The group represents well over a dozen school districts in eastern Oklahoma. State lawmakers from the area have pledged to them they’ll try to end high stakes testing for high school students.  The lawmakers and school administrators want to make sure that students who can’t pass the tests can still get a diploma.

Read more from NewsOn6 at

Gov., legislative leaders support Oklahoma bond issue

Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders say they support a proposal to issue bonds to pay for improvements to Oklahoma’s nearly century-old State Capitol.  Barricades were installed outside the Capitol last year to prevent visitors from climbing the steps of its south portico because mortar and pieces of limestone are falling from slabs overhead. Fallin says the barricades are an embarrassment to the state.  An engineering study estimates that repairs, along with revamping outmoded electrical, plumbing and other systems, could cost as much as $140 million.

Read more from NewsOk at

Oklahoma speaker wants open records for Legislature

Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele says he supports an initiative to require the Oklahoma Legislature to be subject to the state’s Open Records and Open Meetings Act. The Shawnee Republican said Thursday during The Associated Press’ annual legislative forum that “the time has come” for the laws to apply to the Legislature.  Currently, the Legislature is exempt from both laws that require openness and transparency from any state agency, board, commission or public entity like cities or counties that receive public money.

Read more from NewsOK at

Quote of the Day

However, as we’ve seen in the last couple of months with gross production taxes going down over the previous year, that does cause us some concern.  As we know, so much of our economy is tied to the energy industry.

State Treasurer Ken Miller

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s rank among the states in percentage of households with no computer in their home, 27.5 percent in 2010.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau via Economics and Statistics Administration

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Medicare Advantage Premiums Decline as Enrollment Rises

Medicare Advantage plans have 9.4 percent higher enrollment than a year earlier and fees that are 7.2 percent lower, according to a U.S. official who credited the 2010 health-care law for the gains.  In Medicare Advantage, people over age 65 get expanded coverage beyond the standard federal program from private insurers including UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Humana Inc that are subsidized by the government.  “Not only are average premiums lower, but plans are better,” said Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in a statement. The health-care overhaul is “motivating plans to improve the quality of their coverage,” she said.

Read more from Bloomberg Businessweek at

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