In The Know: House Speaker says any tax cuts must be revenue neutral

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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that House Speaker Kris Steel said any final tax cut plan must be revenue neutral. A House panel rejected  a measure that would have outlawed transferable tax credits. The Tulsa City Council voted 8-1 to ask the Legislature to keep the state’s historic preservation tax credit.

Carl Davis writes in NewsOK that the “boom” in no-income tax states is highly overstated by tax cut proponents. OK Policy previously released a fact sheet that summarizes misleading claims made by tax cut boosters.

State Board of Education members said involvement in low-performing schools by the state would be cooperative, not a takeover. NewsOK writes that state funding for a trooper academy is an urgent need. An Oklahoma infertility doctor writes that the Personhood Act is anti-family.

A Senate panel approved allowing open carry of firearms. A bill introduced in the House would require background checks for school volunteers. Lilly Ledbetter, the inspiration for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, will present a free, public lecture at the University of Oklahoma on March 8.

The Number of the Day is the percent
age of 
 infrastructure for biking and walking in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, a report from the Center for American Progess shows how racial stereotypes undermine public support for much-needed anti-poverty programs and lead to misguided policies aimed at solving nonexistent problems.

In The News

Oklahoma House Speaker Steele says any tax cuts must be revenue neutral

House Speaker Kris Steele on Thursday said any final tax cut plan needs to be revenue neutral. Steele, R-Shawnee, and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, are expected to carry legislation outlining Gov. Mary Fallin’s tax cut proposal, which is not revenue neutral. “I am carrying the governor’s plan to keep all options on the table at this point,” Steele said. Two other tax cut proposals passed the Senate Finance Committee earlier this week, one by Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, and one by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond. Steele said he has not endorsed any specific proposal but supports the end goal of reducing the state income tax with plans for phasing it out. But he cautioned that it must be done in a responsible manner and still allow for core government services.

Read more from this Tulsa World.

House panel rejects eliminating transferable tax credits

A House of Representatives Subcommittee rejected a measure Thursday that would have outlawed transferable tax credits, which would have saved the state nearly $30 million a year. It was a setback to the panel’s chairman, Rep. David Dank, who has crusaded the past five years to bring more scrutiny to tax credits. Dank, R-Oklahoma City, authored House Bill 2969 based on recommendations from a legislative task force that he led as it studied tax credits for five months last year. It also showed the power of lobbyists who stepped up pressure in recent days on members of the House budget subcommittee on revenue and taxation, which voted 6-3 not to pass HB 2979. Two subcommittee members said they didn’t understand that the bill would eliminate all transferable tax credits; they said they thought those that produced jobs would remain. And it illustrated how difficult a task lawmakers face this year if they want to reduce and eliminate the state’s personal income tax.

Read more from NewsOK.

Historic preservation tax credit backed 8-1 by Tulsa Council

The City Council approved 8-1 on Thursday a resolution to ask the Legislature to keep the state’s historic preservation tax credit program. Councilor G.T. Bynum cast the only dissenting vote, saying that if “there is money for tax credits, then there is money for tax cuts.” The city’s preservation planner, Amanda DeCort, told councilors that the Oklahoma Credit for Qualified Rehabilitation Expenditures is “under siege.” The tax credit program is included in a preliminary list of tax programs that are to be eliminated in Gov. Mary Fallin’s efforts to roll back the state’s personal income tax rate. DeCort said six competing bills that deal with the issue are making their way through the Senate. She told councilors that the tax credits are a development tool “that has been very important to the revitalization of downtown Tulsa.”

Read more from The Tulsa World.

‘Boom’ in no-income tax states is overstated by tax cut proponents

One of the most common talking points used by lawmakers seeking to repeal state personal income taxes is that doing so will usher in an economic boom. In her State of the State address and on the pages of this newspaper, Gov. Mary Fallin has referred to her income tax repeal plan as “pro-jobs” and a “game-changer.” She has pointed to the allegedly superior economies of states without income taxes to prove her point. But are states without income taxes really booming? A closer look reveals that they aren’t. In fact, the nine states with the highest top income tax rates are actually outperforming them.

Read more from NewsOK.

Previously: Don’t be fooled by junk economics: OCPA/Laffer tax cut plan contains serious flaws from Oklahoma Policy Institute

State Board of Education says it aims to help low-performing schools, not ‘take over’

Many members of the State Board of Education on Thursday fired back at opponents of possible takeover plans in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, insisting that involvement in low-performing schools by the state would be cooperative. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education granted Oklahoma regulatory relief from the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The state’s waiver application allowed education officials to replace 10-year-old school accountability standards for adequate yearly progress and the consequences for failing to meet those standards. While the Tulsa school system and other public schools across the state welcome most of those changes, the waiver’s provision for allowing the state board and Department of Education to hire private management organizations to take over operation of low-performing schools has raised red flags.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

NewsOK: Legislature should make trooper academy funding a priority

During the past three years, 84 Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers have retired or left the agency and not been replaced. This has left the OHP with 759 men and women on the roster, its lowest trooper staffing in 22 years. So it’s no wonder Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson and the chief of the OHP, Col. Kerry Pettingill, are hoping the Legislature will provide a $6 million supplemental appropriation needed to fund a trooper academy that is scheduled to begin in late March. The reason is simple: Present staffing isn’t adequate to cover the 98,000 miles of roadway and 4,000 miles of shoreline for which the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Oklahoma Lake Patrol are responsible. Troopers ride alone much of the time, which can be dangerous particularly at night and when the nearest backup may be 30 minutes or an hour away. Pettingill says it’s routine, especially during daytime hours, for a lone trooper to cover parts of two counties along 70 miles or more of one of the interstate highways.

Read more from NewsOK.

Personhood Act is anti-family

The Personhood Act passed by the Oklahoma Senate last week is anti-reproduction and anti-family, despite being portrayed as pro-life. The Oklahoma Legislature seeks to regulate an area of medicine that may significantly disrupt the sacred bond between physicians and patients and may further disrupt health-care services for Oklahoma’s infertile couples. In passing the act, these legislators, most of whom are not medical scientists, bioethicists or physicians, have failed to consider the unintended consequences to an important area of medicine. The law as written has the potential to disrupt management of contraception, pregnancy losses and fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization (IVF). At the very least, it will significantly alter and limit a couple’s choices with respect to reproductive issues. As an obstetrician/gynecologist who has practiced in the area of reproductive endocrinology and infertility for more than 30 years, including the practice of IVF, I am very concerned that the passage of this bill will have a devastating effect on medical care in Oklahoma.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

Senate panel approves open carry bill

A Senate panel approved a measure Thursday that would allow for the open carrying of firearms. Senate Bill 1733 by Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, passed the Senate Public Safety Committee by a vote of 8-1. Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, cast the lone vote against it. The measure heads to the Senate floor. Sykes said the measure passed a few years ago and was vetoed by former Gov. Brad Henry. “It is basically open carry in Oklahoma except this version of open carry you have to have your concealed-carry license, and it is your choice. You can carry concealed. You can carry unconcealed,” he said. The measure has a provision that allows judges to carry as long as they go through the training and put their names on a list with the administrative director of the courts, Sykes said. House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, said he supports open carry with reasonable restrictions, such as background checks and training.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

House bill would fingerprint, do background checks on school volunteers

A bill introduced in the state House would require background checks for school volunteers participating in overnight activities, or who have access to school locker rooms. House Bill 3076 would require fingerprints to be taken of prospective volunteers and sent to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation for background checks. Volunteer organizations or volunteers would have to pay the fee for the background check. The bill was written by Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs. “My constituents have had concerns about school safety, not because of any story in Oklahoma, but just because of some of the national stories they have heard,” Dorman said. The proposed bill is drawing mixed reactions from area school superintendents.

Read more from Enid News and Eagle.

Upcoming Event: Lilly Ledbetter at OU, March 8

Lilly Ledbetter, the inspiration for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, will present a free, public lecture at the University of Oklahoma on March 8, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the Gaylord Hall Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Auditorium, 395 W. Lindsey St. Ledbetter served as a manager at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Plant in Gadsden, Alabama for almost twenty years. Despite receiving the top performance award, she consistently received less pay than virtually all of her male co-workers. She sued and won a juryverdict of $3 million, which was overturned in a landmark Supreme Court case. Recognizing the injustice of her situation, a campaign was started to pass a law that ensures that other victims of pay discrimination have more than 180 days after their first discriminatory paycheck to file a complaint.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Quote of the Day

You can’t just say ‘Hey, I want to cut your income tax,’ without being responsible and looking at the whole picture.
Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa

Number of the Day

0.4 percent

age of 
 infrastructure for biking and walking in Oklahoma.

Source: America Bikes

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Moving away from racial stereotypes in poverty policy

Stereotypes about different races have a long historical legacy that continues to this day. Negative perceptions about entire groups of people are never good, but when those attitudes contribute to the derailment of efforts to develop effective antipoverty policies meant to help Americans of all races, it’s a tragedy. Stereotypes undermine public support for much-needed programs and, just as damaging, lead to misguided policies that are aimed at solving false or nonexistent problems while the true causes of poverty fail to receive proper or sufficient attention. Despite earnest and at times noble efforts to rid our country of these harmful stereotypes, the problem still stubbornly persists. The good news is that there are various factors that point to the declining significance of this divisive race-baiting strategy—progress that should continue in the decades to come.

Read more from the Center for American Progress.

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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.

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