In The Know: Governor signs tax cut, driver’s license fee hike

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

Today you should know that Gov. Fallin signed into law both an income tax cut and a fee hike on new or renewing driver’s licenses. Oklahoma City attorney Jerry Fent said he will sue to stop the tax cut law, because pairing it with funding Capitol repairs in the same bill is unconstitutional “log rolling.” The OK Policy Blog finds silver linings in the tax cut debate. 

A Democratic legislator plans to push for a statewide vote to require the Legislature to conduct “zero-based” budgeting on state agencies every four years. Some state legislators want the Education Department to end its contract with the CTB/McGraw-Hill and proceed with litigation because of testing glitches, but Superintendent Janet Barresi’s  chief of staff said they may only pursue a 10-percent penalty against the company, which could be paid with curriculum materials instead of cash.

House Speaker TW Shannon will appear at fundraisers for the Republican National Committee with former Vice President Dick Cheney. The Number of the Day is how many payday loans the average borrower takes out over 12 months. In today’s Policy Note, Pro Publica investigates unethical business practices at World Finance, which sells high-interest installment loans in Oklahoma and other states.

In The News

Governor signs tax cut, driver’s license fee hike bills

Both a tax-cut measure and a bill to increase what Oklahomans pay to obtain and renew their driver’s licenses were signed into law Monday by Gov. Mary Fallin. The same law also calls for spending $120 million to renovate the state Capitol, which is plagued by electrical, plumbing and structural problems. Oklahoma City attorney Jerry Fent said he will sue to stop the law, known as House Bill 2032, from taking effect because it addresses more than one subject, which violates a constitutional provision against “log rolling” multiple things into one legislative bill. Fallin also signed Senate Bill 652, which increases the cost for a Class D new or renewed driver’s license by $12, bringing the total cost to $33.50 for a four-year license.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Silver linings tax cuts

After two years of effort, Governor Fallin and legislative leaders finally succeeded in cutting Oklahoma’s top income tax rate. For those who have been actively opposing tax cuts as an unaffordable drain on our resources for schools and other vital services, the outcome, while certainly a disappointment, contains several silver linings. First, compared to last year’s proposal to slash the income tax immediately and then phase it out entirely, the tax cut passed in HB 2032 is relatively modest. It lowers the top rate by one-quarter percent, but not until 2015, with a further cut of two-tenths of one percent in 2016 if revenues grow.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Oklahoma lawmaker pushes zero-based agency budgets

A longtime Democratic legislator said Monday that he plans to push for a statewide vote to require the Legislature to conduct “zero-based” budgeting on state agencies every four years. Rep. Joe Dorman said he will introduce a joint resolution during next year’s session that, if approved, would send a proposed constitutional amendment to a vote of the people. Dorman’s plan is to require legislators and officials representing the governor and state auditor to carefully scrutinize agency budgets every year to determine how much state revenue should be appropriated. Agencies would revolve so that the in-depth budget analysis would be conducted every four years to coincide with a four-year term of a governor or state senator.

Read more from NewsOK.

School districts and lawmakers questioning validity of exams in wake of glitches

Nothing gets people testy like test-taking, especially when accessing the test becomes a sort of test in itself. That was the case last month for 9,100 Oklahoma students in sixth through 12 grade whose scores on online tests were invalidated because of a technological snafu. Some state legislators want the Education Department to end its contract with the Monterey, Calif.-based CTB/McGraw-Hill and proceed with litigation against the company. But Joel Robison, chief of staff for state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi, said the first step must be finishing the assessments. “We believe there may be a clause that allows for a 10-percent penalty to be assessed. We are discussing if the best way to receive that penalty is through a cash payment or for the vendor to provide, at no cost, supplemental curriculum materials for students and teachers to use next year,” he said.

Read more from the Oklahoma Gazette.

House Speaker T.W. Shannon to appear at fundraisers with Dick Cheney

Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon, the only black Republican speaker in the country, will appear at fundraisers and other events on behalf of the Republican National Committee, which is reeling from back-to-back presidential losses and struggling to cope with a changing racial and ethnic makeup in America. “Your speaker here is a rising star of our entire country,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, during an appearance with Shannon, R-Lawton, at the state Capitol. Priebus said Monday that Shannon will appear at a couple fundraiser events with former Vice President Dick Cheney later this month in Texas.

Read more from NewsOK.

Quote of the Day

Although our students were able to eventually complete their test both mornings, many sat for up to an hour waiting on the computer to allow them to proceed. One major concern is that when the students were able to resume, they hurriedly worked through the test to complete before the servers crashed again.

Kathy Davis, director of curriculum and assessment at Yukon Public Schools. School officials are questioning the validity of high-stakes exams that were disrupted by computer problems on the testing vendor’s servers.

Number of the Day


The number of payday loans the average borrower takes out over 12 months, ultimately paying $574 in interest on $392 in loans.

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 2013

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The 182 Percent Loan: How installment lenders put borrowers in a world of hurt

One day late last year, Katrina Sutton stood at a gas pump outside Atlanta and swiped her debit card. Insufficient funds. But that couldn’t be. She’d been careful to wait until her $270 paycheck from Walmart had hit her account. The money wasn’t there? It was all she had. And without gas, she couldn’t get to work. The Problem Behind the Big Business of Installment Loans What’s the Difference Between Payday and Installment Loans? She tried not to panic, but after she called her card company, she couldn’t help it. Her funds had been frozen, she was told, by World Finance. Sutton lives in Georgia, a state that has banned payday loans. But World Finance, a billion-dollar company, peddles installment loans, a product that often drives borrowers into a similar quagmire of debt.

Read more from Pro Publica.

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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.

One thought on “In The Know: Governor signs tax cut, driver’s license fee hike

  1. “Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won’t fatten the dog.” Mark Twain, again!

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