In The Know: Industry weighs in on horizontal drilling debate

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 the debate over tax breaks for horizontal drilling in Oklahoma is drawing a response from industry leaders.  OK Policy previously made the case for why oil and gas industry tax breaks are unnecessary and unaffordable.   

Congress debates the future of food aid programs amidst rising enrollment and continued economic hardship.  A handful of candidates are raising money to challenge Superintendent Barresi in the next election.  The OK Policy Blog shows per pupil spending in the state has dropped significantly since FY 2008.

In today’s Policy Note, Stateline explains how states opting out of Medicaid expansion stand to lose millions in payments to offset the cost of caring for some of the sickest state prison inmates.  The Number of the Day is Oklahoma’s rank nationally for the share of households in which someone went hungry during the year because they could not afford enough food.

In The News

Production tax debate intensifies in Oklahoma’s oil patch

Oklahoma Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger sparked controversy throughout the state oil patch earlier this summer when he suggested legislators consider changing a tax break for horizontal drilling.  My only position in bringing this to everyone’s attention — and particularly to the policymakers — is that it is my responsibility and the responsibility of my office to make them aware of revenue risks,” Doerflinger told The Oklahoman on Thursday. “This is one where I felt like it was time for everyone to have an honest dialogue, understanding that something had to give. I’m thankful that we’ve been engaged in a very productive conversation with industry folks on how to collaborate on addressing this issue. 

Read more from NewsOK

Unnecessary and Unaffordable: The Case for Curbing Oklahoma’s Oil and Gas Tax Breaks

Oklahoma should eliminate tax breaks for the oil and gas industry that are no longer needed and are squeezing out resources for schools, roads, public safety, and other keys to long-term economic growth. Policymakers created the tax exemptions to encourage what were once novel and risky methods of drilling, but these techniques are now standard practice, making the exemptions not only unnecessary but counterproductive.

Read more from OK Policy Blog

Time to take a bite out of food stamps?

Food stamps look ripe for the picking, politically speaking.  Through five years and counting of economic distress, the food aid program has swollen up like a summer tomato. It grew to $78 billion last year, more than double its size when the recession began in late 2007.  That makes it a juicy target for conservative Republicans seeking to trim spending and pare government.But to many Democrats, food stamps are a major element of the country’s commitment to help citizens struggling to meet basic needs.

Read more from NewsOK

Barresi reports $182,000 campaign coffer; undeclared GOP rival raises $146,000

The latest campaign finance reports filed with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission reveal not one but two contenders for the Republican ticket in the 2014 race for state superintendent.  The re-election campaign for incumbent Janet Barresi reported financial contributions of $182,755 through June 30, including a $100,000 campaign loan from the candidate herself.  Tulsa Republican Joy Hofmeister has not officially declared her candidacy, but she has already reported to the state that she raised $146,376 in cash contributions from individuals and one committee.

Read more from Tulsa World

Summer Rerun: Oklahoma’s per pupil spending has plummeted

Oklahoma’s economy has performed relatively well over the course of the Great Recession, compared to the nation as a whole. We’ve had lower unemployment numbers and decent income growth. Yet you wouldn’t know it to look at the state of school funding.  A new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that per pupil spending in Oklahoma has dropped more than 20 percent since FY 2008.

Read more from OK Policy Blog

Quote of the Day

“If they can’t be profitable without a tax giveaway, there are other problems.  We generally don’t use tax policy to continue to subsidize permanently what the private sector should be able to do on its own.”

David Blatt, director of Oklahoma Policy Institute, on continuing to subsidize oil & gas companies with state tax credits for horizontal drilling

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s rank nationally for the share of households in which someone went hungry during the year because they could not afford enough food, 2011

Source: USDA

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

States Missing Out on Millions in Medicaid for Prisoners

Only a dozen states have taken advantage of a long-standing option to stick the federal government with at least half the cost of hospitalizations and nursing home stays of state prison inmates.  The other states have left tens of millions of federal dollars on the table, either because they didn’t know about a federal rule dating to 1997 or they were unable to write the laws and administrative processes to take advantage of it.

Read more from Stateline

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