In The Know: GPT increase fuels revenue boom; public education progress; wide-ranging flood damage…

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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Increased gross production taxes are fueling state’s revenue boom: Oklahoma is currently enjoying a period of exceptionally strong revenue growth. As we near the end of FY 2019, General Revenue collections have already come in $360 million ahead of the year’s estimate, which will ensure a large end-of-year deposit to the Rainy Day Fund. Next year’s revenues collections are projected to be more than 20 percent higher than last year’s, which has allowed the Legislature to approve two straight years of substantial funding increases. [OK Policy]

End of Session Education Wrap-Up: Steady steps forward: While the 2019 legislative session was not as attention-grabbing as last year, public education still claimed a number of victories this session. In 2018, the Legislature passed a historic funding package that increased teacher salaries by an average of $6,100, but put very few additional dollars into the state aid formula to help restore a decade of budget cuts. This year, our priority was to increase state aid funding so that schools could begin to reduce class sizes, hire additional support staff and school counselors, and bring back programs such as art and music. [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: Wait until next year – once again: Until the last days of this legislative session, hopes ran high that this would be the year Oklahoma lawmakers finally passed comprehensive criminal justice reforms to reverse the unsustainable growth of our prison population and ensure fairer and smarter treatment of the justice-involved. It was not to be. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

In The News

Some Improve Our Tulsa money could go to fix flood damage, mayor says: The Improve Our Tulsa renewal package scheduled to go to voters in November could include funding to repair infrastructure damaged in the recent flooding and tornadoes, Mayor G.T. Bynum said Wednesday. [Tulsa World] Between 500 and 600 structures in Tulsa County took on water during last week’s flooding along the Arkansas River and the streams that feed into it, according to figures compiled by Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency. [Tulsa World] Fast storms and tornado cause long recovery in Sapulpa [Tulsa World] No timeline for extensive flood damage at Sand Springs’ Case Community Park [Tulsa World]

‘We are with you,’ Vice President Mike Pence tells local flood victims, volunteers: Vice President Mike Pence and a retinue of federal and state officials spoke to volunteers and visited flood victims in west Tulsa County on Tuesday to assure them the Trump administration is on the ball. [Tulsa World] For the past 10 years, the Tulsa Regional Chamber’s annual OneVoice Agenda fly-in to Washington, D.C., has included lobbying on behalf of area river and flood control projects. [Tulsa World]

Coalition considered targeting elementary aged children with pain management message: A coalition that included key opinion leaders paid by Johnson & Johnson considered targeting both elementary-aged children and returning war veterans with marketing information about pain management, according to a document introduced into evidence Wednesday in Cleveland County District Court. [The Oklahoman]

Anesthesiologist: Opioids lead to more pain and higher doses: An anesthesiologist who testified as an expert Wednesday in the state’s case against drugmakers it accuses of fueling a deadly opioid abuse epidemic said he has never encountered a patient who has benefited from long-term use of prescription painkillers. On the contrary, Dr. Danesh Mazloomdoost said powerful opioids prescribed to relieve conditions like lower back pain typically make a patient’s pain worse over time, tragically making many believe they need higher and higher doses. [Journal Record]

Former GOP lawmaker becomes US attorney in Oklahoma City: A former Republican lawmaker and recent adviser to Gov. Kevin Stitt is being sworn in as the top federal prosecutor in Oklahoma City. Timothy Downing took the oath of office Wednesday as the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma. President Donald Trump nominated Downing in March, and the U.S. Senate confirmed him last month. [AP News]

Former city councilor pushes for two new sales tax initatives, hopes to fund operations and maintenance: Former Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid wants Oklahoma City voters to consider two sales tax questions to fund city parks and public transportation. Shadid, who ended an eight-year career on the council this year, told The Oklahoman he plans to use the initiative petition process to put a ⅛ cent sales tax to fund the operation and maintenance of public transportation and another ⅛ cent sales tax for upkeep of city parks on a citywide ballot in December. [The Oklahoman]

oNE OKC event to showcase east side developments: The fourth annual oNE OKC block party this weekend will aim to represent a vision for northeast Oklahoma City’s future while showing the value of community investment, organizers say. Camal Pennington, the vice president of NEOKC Renaissance and a resident of northeast Oklahoma City, said the block party and his organization want to showcase redevelopment plans in the area. [NonDoc]

Auditors find overpayments in Okmulgee County: State auditors have uncovered evidence that Okmulgee County’s elected officials have received $382,403 in salary overpayments in violation of state law, The Oklahoman has learned. “I’m shocked,” said Okmulgee County Treasurer Vonna Lampkins, one of the elected officials found to have received excessive payments. “I’m glad I decided to keep my 2011 Nissan.” [The Oklahoman]

Cost of two investigations at OU tops $1 million: The expense of investigating retired OU President David Boren and the misreporting of information to U.S. News & World Report has skyrocketed. The University of Oklahoma now has paid the Jones Day law firm more than $1,030,000 for the two completed investigations, records show. [The Oklahoman]

Alarms were off, protocol absent when 5 died in explosive blowout, report on Quentin gas rig finds: A myriad of operational and safety management problems are among the findings of federal investigators who probed a natural gas drilling rig explosion that killed five workers in Pittsburg County in January 2018. [Tulsa World]

EPA announces grants to clean up brownfield sites in OKC and Tulsa: The Environmental Protection Agency announced a $300,000 grant to Oklahoma City and $500,000 grant to Tulsa on Wednesday to support environmental cleanup of under-used properties ripe for redevelopment. Tulsa received $500,000 to address asbestos in a portion of the U.S. Air Force Plant No. 3 building at the Tulsa International Airport. In Oklahoma City, the money will be invested in the Core to Shore area between the downtown districts and the Oklahoma River. [Journal Record]

Horn backs bill for “Dreamers” that is expected to die in Senate: Oklahomans in the U.S. House split along partisan lines this week on a key immigration vote, and Rep. Tom Cole said the bill’s partisan nature is why it won’t become law. The House on Tuesday night approved legislation that offers a detailed path to citizenship for people who were illegally brought to the United States as minors. The bill would also protect some people who came to the country under a temporary status. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal and state leaders speak at sovereignty symposium: John Budd, who holds the new state Cabinet-level position of chief operating officer, said he has been impressed with how much the Native American tribes are integrated into Oklahoma’s fabric. That’s not the situation in his former home state of Arizona, he said. But he wants to bring the tribes more into the state’s operations, especially as the Cabinet secretaries work to make Oklahoma a top-10 state. [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“There’s never anything good about a disaster. Never. But if there is a silver lining, we’ve finally gained the attention of a presidential administration and these other federal agencies.”

-Tulsa Chamber President Mike Neal, on getting a federal study of the 70-year-old levee system that protects Tulsa from floods [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day

41%

Average amount that housing takes up of low-income family budgets, more than any other expenditure.

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The keys to helping kids overcome poverty: For starters, the Georgetown research, along with two other recent reports, all point to the idea that early interventions can help lower-income kids succeed in school. Preschool, in conjunction with other programs, has the potential to close socioeconomic gaps over a generation. [Governing]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. Born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, she immigrated to Oklahoma with her family at a young age and obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University as a Clara Luper Scholar. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked as an Inbound and Digital Marketing Specialist for an OKC based firm. She is an alumnus of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a Board Member for Dream Action Oklahoma, a community organization dedicated to advocating and empowering immigrant youth in the state.

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