In The Know: Gov. Stitt delivers state of the state address, emphasizes tax cuts and school vouchers | Capitol Update | More

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

New session could be pivotal year for Oklahoma (Capitol Update): The legislative session began Monday with the governor’s state of the state address to a joint session. Despite it being an election year, the summer and fall produced quite a few constructive interim studies, and among the introduced bills there are plenty to make for a productive legislative session. I look for education and the budget measures to consume the most time, and probably fireworks, with the new state superintendent and the legislature working to get on the same page. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers State of the State, kicking off 2023 legislative session: Stitt said his legislative priorities included eliminating the state sales tax on groceries and lowering personal and corporate income taxes. He also renewed his call for school vouchers and proposed creation of a $1 billion state “legacy” fund that would generate revenue for the future. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma Gov. Stitt, reelected and emboldened, will call for tax cuts and school choice [The Oklahoman]
  • State flush with cash, Oklahoma GOP expected to push tax cuts [Journal Record]
  • Stitt agenda: ‘Business-friendly, family-friendly’ Oklahoma [Journal Record]
  • Governor proposes tight budget, $1 billion investment fund [Tulsa World]
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt touts school vouchers, tax cuts in kicking off legislative session [Tulsa World]
  • What three taxes does Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt want to cut? Here’s what to know [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma Gov. Stitt proposes $130M school voucher program. Will rural opposition sink it again? [The Oklahoman]
  • Stitt Emphasizes Private School Vouchers as Top Education Priority [Oklahoma Watch]

Behind Stitt’s ‘Democracy is Doomed’ Remark and Other Election Issues Raised Monday: Oklahoma lawmakers have introduced more than 90 election and voting-related bills this session. Some would restrict absentee voting or the initiative petition process. Others aim to boost pay and legal protections for precinct officials. [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

Listen Frontier: Oklahoma’s new attorney general says he’s working to ‘right the direction’ of the state: New Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond has wasted no time in making his mark on the state. [The Frontier]

  • Oklahoma AG to examine legality of Veterans Commission made up of Stitt appointees [Tulsa World]

Banning guns for marijuana users ruled unconstitutional: A federal judge in Oklahoma has ruled that a federal law prohibiting people who use marijuana from owning firearms is unconstitutional, the latest challenge to firearms regulations after the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority set new standards for reviewing the nation’s gun laws. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma lawmaker seeks to eliminate ‘corporate welfare’: A Republican state lawmaker from Inola has filed a bill to repeal legislation passed in 2022 intended to enhance economic development by making it easier to offer companies incentives to locate in Oklahoma. State Rep. Tom Gann said House Bill 4455, also known as the Large-Scale Economic Activity and Development (LEAD) Act, passed last year, might actually do more harm than good for state taxpayers. [Journal Record]

Photos: Transgender rights protesters gather at Oklahoma Capitol ahead of State of the State: Several Republican lawmakers are seeking to limit gender-affirming care for transgender Oklahomans through a slate of bills LGBTQ advocates say are extreme. Ahead of the legislative session starting Monday, GOP lawmakers pre-filed at least four bills that would ban gender-affirming care for many transgender Oklahomans. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma death row inmate claims dad confessed to 1996 murder of OU ballerina Juli Busken: A death row inmate claims he has new evidence that he is innocent of the 1996 murder of University of Oklahoma ballerina Juli Busken. Anthony Castillo Sanchez, 44, claims his father confessed before committing suicide last April. [The Oklahoman]

Phil Albert charged with tax evasion, faces March trial: Phil Albert, the former University of Oklahoma regent and former Tulsa Regional Chamber chairman who once was a top political donor in the state, is facing a federal jury trial in March after being charged with tax evasion Jan. 23. [NonDoc]

Economy & Business News

Nonprofit saying it represents ‘thousands of ratepayers’ barred from PSO rate hike case: An organization advocating for competition for Oklahoma’s utilities has so far been excluded from participating in a rate increase case brought by Public Service Company of Oklahoma. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Education News

‘Protecting kids from further trauma’: State lawmaker aims to change sex education classes: An Oklahoma lawmaker wants to change the way sex education is taught in school. Amanda Swope says children would benefit from learning about what’s legal in a relationship. [KTUL]

Column: Getting back to a more educated America: The combination of America’s education firepower and our system of free enterprise created a heady mix of innovation and productivity. But the talent side of our equation is waning. Other countries are now catching up (or passing us) in education attainment, and we still leave far too many young Americans behind in our public K-12 system. [Guest Column by Anne Wicks / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Early voting begins Thursday for City Council, sales tax, school bond [Stillwater News Press]
  • Coalition seeking national monument status for Black Wall Street, Greenwood District [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“The governor is talking about fiscal discipline and really presenting just a bunch of back-of-the-napkin math instead of looking at what we need to invest in… Our budget’s already artificially low. We’re not spending enough on public schools, we are not enough on mental health, and we’re seeing the effects of that.”

-Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, expressing frustration with the rush to cut taxes when current state revenues could be used to expand state services. [NonDoc]

Number of the Day

$134 Million

Amount of revenue provided directly to public common education by Oklahoma’s corporate income tax in FY2022. For reference, that’s just slightly less than the entire budget for the Department of Career and Technology Education. [OK Policy]

Policy Note

State Lawmakers Should Break the 2023 Tax Cut Fever Before It’s Too Late: Despite mixed economic signals for 2023, including a possible recession, many state lawmakers plan to use temporary budget surpluses to forge ahead with permanent, regressive tax cuts that would disproportionately benefit the wealthy at the expense of low- and middle-income households. These cuts would put state finances in a precarious position and further erode public investments in education, transportation and health, all of which are crucial for creating inclusive, vibrant communities where everyone, not just the rich, can achieve economic security and thrive. In the event of an economic downturn, these results would be accelerated and amplified. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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