In The Know: New tax revenue that may never be collected certified by state board

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.

In The News

New Tax Revenue That May Never Be Collected Certified by State Board: The Oklahoma Board of Equalization on Monday certified nearly $461 million in new revenue that may never be collected if an effort succeeds to repeal the tax bill passed in March. The board, composed of Gov. Mary Fallin and other elected officials, met to make an official adjustment to estimated revenue for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The adjustment was needed to include the estimated revenue from increases to taxes on cigarettes, motor fuels and some oil and gas production [NewsOK]. Tulsa Superintendent Deborah Gist said the district has no alternative but stipends if it’s going to pay the raise and doing otherwise could potentially bankrupt the district [Tulsa World]. What we know – and don’t know – about the revenue bill veto challenge [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma City schools reduce suspensions, but black student rate remains high: Over the past few years, Oklahoma City schools have significantly reduced the number of students it suspends each year. However, the disproportionate suspension rate of black students remains high. Oklahoma City Public Schools issued 40 percent fewer suspensions during the 2016-17 school year, compared to four years earlier. But of the 3,382 students suspended during the 2016-17 school year, 44 percent were black, despite the fact that black students make up just 24 percent of district enrollment [NewsOK]. Overuse of suspensions can seriously harm kids’ educational futures [OKPolicy].

Accepting Our Highest-In-The-World Incarceration Rate Means Believing That Oklahomans Are the Worst People: We knew the day would come when Oklahoma surpassed Louisiana as the highest-incarcerating state in the highest-incarcerating country in the world. After Louisiana’s legislature passed a sweeping criminal justice reform package in 2017, Oklahoma Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh said that he “expect[s] Oklahoma’s incarceration rate to eventually be the country’s highest.” As it turns out, Oklahoma has had the highest incarceration rate in the world since the end of 2016; we just didn’t know it because federal statistics are released on a year-long lag [OKPolicy].

Effort to Expedite Venue Decision in Opioids Case Rejected by Federal Judge: An Oklahoma City federal judge has rejected an emergency request from the state to speed up legal arguments over whether Oklahoma’s lawsuit against opioid manufacturers should be moved back to state court in Cleveland County. Attorneys for the state say they plan to ask U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange to reconsider her decision — saying she risks having an Ohio federal court take over the case before she can rule unless she quickly reverses her decision [NewsOK].

Oklahomans Eying Medical Marijuana Vote Worry About Addiction While Others Are Eager for Treatment: Oklahoma voters on June 26 will decide if the licensed cultivation, use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes should be legal. Some polls suggest State Question 788, which would create a regulatory and licensing system for medical marijuana, is likely to pass, but many Oklahomans like Pam Hayes of Kansas, a small town in the eastern part of the state, intend to vote ‘no’ [KGOU]. State Question 788: Read the full text of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana measure before Tuesday vote [Tulsa World]. ACLU weighs in on medical marijuana forum in Rogers County [Public Radio Tulsa]. Fact Sheet: State Question 788 – Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative [OKPolicy].

Special session considered as medical marijuana debate heats up in Oklahoma: Gov. Mary Fallin intends to call a special session to develop legislation for the practical implementation of new medical marijuana laws if voters approve State Question 788 on Tuesday, a spokesman for the governor said. “The governor is concerned that the state would not be able to have a system established in 30 days after passage as called for in SQ 788,” Michael McNutt, the governor’s communication’s director, said Tuesday. “The governor still plans to talk with Senate and House leadership about a possible special session,” he said [NewsOK].

Gubernatorial Race Crosses $11 Million Mark as Candidates Spend Heavily: The Oklahoma gubernatorial race has crossed the $11 million mark in spending, according to newly filed campaign reports that show most of the Republican candidates low on money by the middle of June. Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt, a Republican, spent a total of $3.8 million on his campaign from last year through June 11, according to a report filed Monday with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. After spending $2.4 million from April 1 through June 11, the Stitt campaign was down to $291,000 [NewsOK]. Oklahoma 2018 State Questions and Elections [OKPolicy].

Poll: Three Republican Gubernatorial Candidates in a Dead Heat: Oklahoma’s primary elections are a week away, but voters could be heading to the polls again in August. The Republican gubernatorial primary is proving an incredibly tight race, with three candidates neck and neck. Statewide polls indicate three candidates will split a majority of the vote. Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Gateway Mortgage Group CEO Kevin Stitt each hold about 20 percent of the projected vote among likely voters [Journal Record]. Political newcomer in governor’s Kevin Stitt race has scarce voting record [Oklahoma Watch].

Oklahoma Lawmakers Who Missed the Most Votes in 2018 Explain Why; Most Cite Family Crises: Legislators point to reasons ranging from family health matters to military deployment when explaining why they’ve missed a substantial number of floor votes. The missed votes were tabulated by eCapitol, a subscription-based legislative news and bill tracking service. The data cover the two special sessions and the regular session that ended in May [Tulsa World].

University of Oklahoma Facing $1 Billion Debt, Inadequate Operating Cash: The University of Oklahoma is losing $36 million a year as expenses continue to outpace revenues, the incoming president said Tuesday. “Total debt is almost $1 billion at our Norman campus,” said Jim Gallogly, who becomes OU’s 14th president July 1. Debt service costs are almost $70 million a year, he said. “Our debt has more than doubled in the last 10 years as we’ve been on a building campaign,” Gallogly said. “As a result of that, we have a beautiful campus and a lot to be proud of, but during that period of time, we spent approximately $730 million” [NewsOK].

Tuition on the Rise at Some State Schools: Although the Oklahoma Legislature avoided cuts to the state’s higher education institutions, many will continue to raise tuition. When lawmakers approved the state’s budget in April, they prevented cuts to all state agencies. The Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education, the state agency overseeing Oklahoma’s colleges and universities, had been sustaining steep cuts for years before that [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Health Department Restores Cuts to Child Abuse Prevention: Oklahoma will restore about $2 million in funding to prevent child abuse this year, but organizations aren’t guaranteed the same money they got before funds were cut. The Oklahoma State Department of Health ended the grants in October, as financial problems loomed. Interim Commissioner Tom Bates announced Monday that the department will be able to pay the grants again in the fiscal year starting July 1 [NewsOK].

DHS in Need of Foster Parents to Care for Kids with Disabilities: Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services say they are struggling to find foster homes and adoptive homes for children with disabilities. DHS will close the last state-run shelter in Tulsa at the end of this month. Right now, many children under DHS custody with disabilities are going to partner providers, like the J.D. McCarty Center in Norman and Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany [KFOR].

Oklahoma Faith Leaders Speak out on Family Separation: Oklahoma church leaders have issued a statement calling for an end to the Trump administration’s separation of immigrant children from families on the southern border, joining a throng of national faith leaders who have condemned the practice on religious and moral grounds. The Oklahoma Conference of Churches (OCC) Council of Communion Leaders issued the statement Monday, urging the Trump administration to stop its policy of separating children from families who have illegally crossed the border [Enid News & Eagle].

OG&E Rate Cut Approved: The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has approved a $64 million rate cut in utility bills proposed by Oklahoma’s largest electric utility. The commission voted 3-0 Tuesday to approve the cut that was agreed to following months of negotiations between Oklahoma Gas & Electric, the state Attorney General’s Office, the commission’s Public Utilities Division and others over a proposal filed by OG&E early this year to slightly increase its rates. [Public Radio Tulsa].

Tulsa Public Schools Board Approves New Names for Two Schools; Lee Name Again Focus of Discussion: Two Tulsa Public Schools got new names Monday night, but a school that’s already been renamed got most of the attention. As of July 1, Chouteau Elementary will become Wayman Tisdale Fine Arts Academy and Columbus Elementary will be called Dolores Huerta Elementary School after the Tulsa school board voted to approve those changes Monday night. However, it was the school named Lee that, once again, grabbed the spotlight [Tulsa World].

Movement Brings Awareness to Suicide, Mental Health: The I’m Enough Movement is hosting a meeting for women to bring awareness to suicide, mental illness, abuse and body shaming. “I want to bring awareness to people like myself,” said Crystal Barwick, founder of the movement. The plus-sized woman suffers from bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. “I’m tired of having to hide,” Barwick said. “For the longest time I had to hide who I was. For the longest time, if I got overly happy I had to make up an excuse for it. If I got overly depressed, I had to make an excuse for it. I’m tired of making excuses. I am who I am.” [Enid News & Eagle].

Quote of the Day

“Our university has been operating in the red the last couple of years. One would think it might be wise to go in and increase tuition. Frankly, we’ve been asking our students to pay increase after increase after increase.”

-University of Oklahoma President-designate Jim Gallogly, who said the University will hold tuition flat this year while assessing its financial situation [Journal Record].

Number of the Day

$3.7 billion

Total sales and gross receipts taxes collected by Oklahoma in 2017, nearly 44 percent of all taxes collected by the state.

[2017 Census of Governments]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Reagan, Deregulation and America’s Exceptional Rise in Health Care Costs: To lessen risk, hospitals sought revenue at every turn, starting new programs and offering new services — such as providing new outpatient services that previously involved longer hospital stays. Health care organizations became more concerned with growing in scale to absorb the higher level of risk, which helped push health care spending ever higher. Though shifting more responsibility to the investor-owned private sector seemed to backfire as a cost-control measure, it was consistent with broader deregulation in the 1980s. “We need to see the medical sector as part of the broader gestalt of American society at the time,” said John McDonough, professor of Public Health Practice at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. President Carter was “obsessed with broad public and private health care cost control, and Reagan abandoned that, with the exception of Medicare,” he said [New York Times].

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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