In The Know: Impasse on tax cuts | Providing targeted tax relief | Hearings on Swadley’s, Tourism Department | 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.

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma House, Senate at impasse on tax cuts in session called by Gov. Kevin Stitt: Political gridlock at the state Capitol means Oklahomans won’t see any new tax cuts or inflation relief in the short term. Leading Oklahoma House Republicans on Monday introduced a package of bills to cut various taxes, offsetting the costs by chopping budgets for several state agencies — including a 53% cut to the governor’s office. [The Oklahoman

Recently from OK Policy: Cuts to the individual income tax rate are unfair to low- and middle-class families since they return the largest benefit to the wealthiest Oklahomans. Tax cuts now can devastate state revenue and funding for services like public education in future years.

Recently from OK Policy: Completely eliminating the sales tax on groceries will not help with inflation and it will cost critical revenue now and in the future. To avoid this, lawmakers should consider significantly expanding the Sales Tax Relief Credit that would provide targeted tax relief to Oklahomans who need it, cost less revenue, and give lawmakers more flexibility to raise revenue in the future.

State Government News

OMES directors says Swadley’s Tourism contract was signed a year before he saw it: On Monday, the director of Oklahoma’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services told an Oklahoma House Special Investigative Committee that his agency didn’t know about the contract between Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and Swadley’s Bar-B-Q until a year after the deal was signed. [The Oklahoman

Driving one of Canoo’s electric vehicles with company CEO Tony Aquila: The company claims the state of Oklahoma has promised incentives valued at $300 million to build a factory in the state. Canoo also has a no-bid contract to provide up to 1,000 vehicles to Oklahoma state agencies over five years. But right now, its Arkansas factory is an empty shell. [The Frontier

Turnpike Authority authorizes bonds to fund Access Oklahoma plan: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority says a last-minute special meeting held to move forward with a contested turnpike extension saved it months of delays. Opponents of the turnpike extension say the unusual tactic was evidence of the agency’s determination to force through an expensive, unwanted project. [The Journal Record]

“It’s discrimination,” Oklahomans with disabilities say they’re ‘locked out’ of bathroom accessibility: A group of Oklahomans is pushing to get universal changing tables in state restrooms, including at the State Capitol. On Monday, Audra Beasley, her son, Max, and State Representative Mickey Dollens attached a lock to a chain-link fence to symbolize people with disabilities not having equal access to public restrooms. [KFOR]

Federal Government News

Supreme Court ruling: Some immigrants can be detained at least six months without bond hearing: The Supreme Court has ruled against immigrants who are seeking their release from long periods of detention while they fight deportation orders. [AP News via KOCO]

Tribal Nations News

Will the Supreme Court decision in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta leave states with an unfunded mandate?: Should the state of Oklahoma have jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes on reservations? That’s the question the U.S. Supreme Court is considering. There’s a federal law already on the books that would allow the state to have this right. So why is the case before the Court? [KOSU

Voting and Election News

Oklahoma City Council candidates campaigning months before filing period: Even though the official filing period isn’t until December, several candidates have already begun to announce their candidacy for the four Oklahoma City Council seats up for election February 14, 2023. [OKC Free Press]

Health News

Monkeypox case officially confirmed in Oklahoma, as Health Department monitors situation: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, officially identified a case of the monkeypox virus after the state Health Department announced it was isolating a central Oklahoma resident who had returned from another country where there are confirmed cases. [The Oklahoman

On World Blood Donor Day, state’s blood supply remains critical: June 14 marks World Blood Donor Day and the Oklahoma Blood Institute is still operating at critical supply levels, a level it has been at since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. [The Lawton Constitution]

The partisan divide can undermine Americans’ health, researchers say: Dr. Steven Woolf points to New York and Oklahoma. In the mid-’90s, life expectancy was about the same in these two states. Now New York is near the top of the list when it comes to life expectancy, Oklahoma is near the bottom. He says part of this is likely due to policy differences. [KOSU via NPR]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma Attorney General Requests 25 Execution Dates Despite Independent Investigation and Claims of Innocence, Serious Mental Illness, and Brain Damage – Death Penalty Information Center: Oklahoma state prosecutors are pushing to schedule 25 executions over approximately two years, after a federal judge denied death-row prisoners’ challenge to the state’s controversial lethal-injection protocol. [Death Penalty Information Center]

Questions on active shooter situations welcome at town hall with Tulsa law enforcement leaders: Two weeks after a mass slaying on the Saint Francis campus, those with questions about active shooter situations are invited to discuss them with area law enforcement leaders at a Tulsa Crime Stoppers event. An hourlong town hall set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday will focus on the roles of law enforcement agencies, including 911 dispatchers, during an active shooter response. [Tulsa World

Tulsa pays $175,000 to kin of man who died after TPD tased him 27 times: The City of Tulsa has agreed to a payment of $175,000 with the family of Joshua Harvey, the man who died in a hospital after Tulsa Police tased him over two dozen times. Harvey’s family filed a lawsuit almost two years ago against the City of Tulsa as well as members of the Tulsa Police Department alleging his constitutional rights were violated when he was tased 27 times by police. [The Black Wall Street Times

Economic Opportunity

Starbucks unionization efforts represent the next generation of the labor movement: Following the first win for Starbucks unions in the state, union organizers speculate this is part of a new wave in the long history of the labor movement in Oklahoma. The final vote count was 15-2, a nearly unanimous win that Starbucks union organizer Alyssa Sperrazza said will encourage herself and the other union organizers to keep going. [KGOU

Economy & Business News

No end in sight to high gas, energy prices, local industry leaders say: With gasoline and diesel prices setting new records on a daily basis for weeks, there is no foreseeable end, and possibly much worse pain to come at the pump — and at grocery and other stores, local industry leaders said. [Tulsa World

General News

Oklahoma nursing homes facing staffing crisis: It looks lovely on the outside, but the emptiness on the inside of Sapulpa’s Ranch Terrace is haunting now that all of its residents have moved out. “We couldn’t get sufficient staff to care for the residents here,” said co-owner Scott Rogers. [KTUL

Oklahoma Local News

Push for police oversight funding continues as councilors prepare to vote on FY 2023 budget: A City Council working group recommended last month that if the Police Department is going to establish a Real Time Information Center, the city should also implement a police oversight program. For Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, that begins by funding it. [Tulsa World

Commissioners approve “relative” contract: A contract with an architecture and engineering firm and a related invoice was approved by two Cleveland County Commissioners despite a blood relative in the company also working for the county. District 1 Commissioner Rod Cleveland voted no on a $15,000 invoice of a $55,000 contract with Rees & Associates. [The Norman Transcript]

Quote of the Day

“Trying to do something after a budget is approved sort of at a split second in an election year when the atmosphere is very politically charged, I believe, would yield not very good tax reform that we might live to regret.”

– Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville), describes her reservations about making hasty cuts. She noted that SQ 640 requires three-fourths majorities in both legislative chambers to raise taxes – a nearly impossible threshold to reach. [The Oklahoman]

Previously from OK Policy: Rather than cutting taxes, legislators must consider the state’s long-term fiscal health and its structural deficit by maintaining revenue streams this year and for years to come. 

Number of the Day

65%

A cut to the state’s personal income tax rate will direct nearly two-thirds (65%) of the benefit to the top 20 percent of earners.

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

Recently from OK Policy: Cuts to the personal income tax rate are unfair to low- and middle-class families since they return the largest benefit to the wealthiest Oklahomans. Tax cuts now can devastate state revenue and funding for services like public education in future years.

Policy Note

Rising Prices: Another Reason to Be Wary of Tax Cutting Right Now: Many state lawmakers see any economic challenge as an excuse to cut taxes and in 2022, some are citing inflation as a reason to do so. All eyes today are on the inflation rate facing consumers which, spurred on in part by rising corporate profits, is now running at its fastest pace in decades. But less noticed data released by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) earlier this week offer a reminder that rising costs have the potential to strain government budgets as well, and there are big risks in choosing to reduce revenue in this moment when the price of essential services is rising. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristin Wells joined OK Policy in October 2021 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

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