In The Know: Officials project $1.3B revenue drop; state formally submits Gov.’s health care plan; oil prices plummet; and 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. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

(Capitol Update) Finding an upside of recent budget battle: Writing the budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2020, has only gotten more difficult with the continued difficulties in the oil patch and the economy in general. It wasn’t made any easier when the negotiations between the Governor and Legislature soured on SB 199, the appropriation bill to access the Rainy Day Fund and finish out the current fiscal year. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

‘Tough decisions’: Stitt projects $1.3 billion drop, legislators want the math: Oklahoma’s state budget picture got simultaneously more clear and less certain Monday as the Board of Equalization certified a Fiscal Year 2020 revenue failure, listened to bleak financial estimates for FY 2021 and FY 2022 and voted to send the Legislature a letter urging creative approaches to cutting state services. [NonDoc] Jay Doyle, the tax commission’s executive director, predicted the state will have a 20% decrease in appropriated revenue next year, which will amount to $1.3 billion less than the $8.2 billion the Board of Equalization certified in February. [The Oklahoman] The revenue failure declaration means the provisions of Senate Bill 199 have been triggered, allowing officials to access a portion of the state’s Rainy Day Fund to avoid cuts to agencies during the current fiscal year. [Tulsa World] The Governor is asking the legislature to consider a scenario where the savings money would be spread out over three years to cushion the effects on core services such as education, corrections and healthcare. [KOSU] Gov. Stitt and other members of the Board of Equalization also discussed continuing declines in oil and gas production tax revenues and virtually all other revenue streams that will affect the state’s spending capacity in coming years. [The Journal Record] The board’s decision brings to an end a legal squabble between the governor and the Legislature in which lawmakers sought to have the state Supreme Court force the board to meet. [AP News]

Agency submits Medicaid waiver to impose work requirements, charge premiums: The Stitt administration is moving forward with plans to charge Medicaid premiums and impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients who could be newly eligible for coverage as soon as July 1. [The Oklahoman] In an online information session yesterday, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority unveiled the final version of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s SoonerCare 2.0 waiver application for an alternative version of Medicaid expansion. [NonDoc] The review was provided even as proponents of traditional Medicaid expansion were ramping up efforts to inform Oklahomans of a vote set for June 30 to decide the fate of State Question 802. [The Journal Record] How does State Question 802 compare to the Governor’s SoonerCare 2.0 proposal? [Oklahoma Watch] OK Policy: Thousands of Oklahomans have spoken out against the Governor’s health care proposal, which could restrict health care access for up to 200,000 Oklahomans.  

Oil below zero: U.S. crude prices plummet to negative $37 amid COVID-19 concerns: Oil futures dropped below zero for the first time in history Monday as the coronavirus pandemic continues to weaken demand amid concerns U.S. storage is near capacity. [The Journal Record] As prices of oil dropped into negative numbers Monday, local Oklahoma energy companies saw hits to their share value as well. [The Oklahoman] The price of West Texas Intermediate oil lost all of its value Monday, plummeting to less than $1 per barrel in midday trading before May futures contracts dipped into negative numbers. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma has 2,680 known coronavirus cases and at least 143 deaths: There are currently 2,680 confirmed cases in the state. At least 143 people have died as of April 15 — three more deaths than the day before. [The Frontier] Visit for the latest COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma.

Health News

IHME dramatically decreases expected deaths in Oklahoma from COVID-19: As the spread of the novel coronavirus appears to be slowing across the country, health experts across the nation are trying to figure out if it is time to loosen some restrictions on the country. [KFOR

Rural hospitals are facing financial ruin and furloughing staff during the coronavirus pandemic: Oklahoma, which has the nation’s second-highest uninsured rate, is a hotspot for rural hospital closings, with seven shutting down since 2016. The state government’s refusal so far to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act has likely made an impact — multiple studies have found that states that didn’t expand the program have seen more hospital closures. [WRBCtv]

Gov. Stitt amends order on when medical procedures and elective surgeries may resume: Gov. Stitt has taken executive action to allow medical providers and facilities with enough PPE to resume minor medical procedures and non-emergency dental procedures on April 30. He also amended an executive order to allow elective surgeries to resume on April 24. [KTUL]

Oklahoma hospitals discuss standards for performing elective surgeries during pandemic: Following the announcement by Gov. Kevin Stitt on April 15 that he is amending his executive order to begin allowing some elective surgeries on April 24, Oklahoma hospitals are reviewing their policies closely in light of continued concerns around the supply of personal protective equipment and availability of testing. [Grand Lake News]

Nursing homes worldwide being hit by pandemic ‘like no one else’: Closer to home, 44 residents and 19 staff members at Grove Nursing Center in northeast Oklahoma tested positive for the coronavirus last week, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. [Joplin Globe]

State Government News

Oklahoma public safety agencies plan for budget cuts: The coronavirus pandemic is hurting state revenues and public safety agencies in Oklahoma are preparing for a potential 3% cut to their budgets in the next fiscal year. [KOSU]

Federal Government News

Lankford foresees lifting of COVID-19 restrictions but doesn’t know when: The state’s economy can’t remain locked down forever — or even seven or eight months — but when and how it will begin to come out of hiding from COVID-19 is impossible to say, U.S. Senator James Lankford said Monday. [Tulsa World]

Economic Opportunity

Many landlords looking at options to avoid evictions: Many eviction notices, sitting at county courthouses in Oklahoma, until sheriff’s offices start serving them again. Ryan Gentzler, the director of Open Justice Oklahoma, said there are 1,625 to be exact. “The problem here, really, is that they’re all going to be coming at once,” Gentzler said. He said that presents a potential health concern with crowded court houses and homelessness. He said a suspension on being able to file an eviction should be considered. [Fox25] The Oklahoman reports that after a current moratorium on eviction hearings, thousands could lose their homes creating a homeless population not seen since the Great Depression. [KOSU] OK Policy: Policymakers must do more to prevent evictions and foreclosures during and after the COVID-19 crisis. We’re tracking these cases with our new Oklahoma Court Tracker tool.

A formerly shuttered county facility gives people experiencing homelessness new hope in crisis: The Salvation Army reopened the doors of the recently shuttered Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau west of downtown Tulsa on Monday. Up to 55 men are able to have their own space — formerly holding cells — to allow for better social distancing practices at the Center of Hope shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Voluntary furlough program offered to employees of Cherokee Nation Businesses: The business arm of the Cherokee Nation is giving employees the option of going on furlough — a move that could enable some workers to receive an increase in take-home pay while unable to work due to the pandemic. [The Oklahoman]

Small, local retailers regroup as new association changes tactics: Independent Shopkeepers Association Director Cleo Rajon admits the organization didn’t start out as a means to help small shops survive a pandemic and economic crash. But it’s helping spread the word on what does and doesn’t help. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Hofmeister, OEA ‘do not support’ federal aid to private schools: A suggestion from Gov. Kevin Stitt to use federal education aid for private-school scholarships sparked opposition from public-school advocates, including Oklahoma’s top education official. [The Oklahoman] Tulsa World editorial: Gov. Stitt’s first thoughts to use federal emergency education funds for bolstering what amounts to private school vouchers does nothing to help public schools in crisis. It would not address the multiple inequities uncovered during the COVID-19 pandemic and would deny money to a public school system that needs it. [Tulsa World Editorial] OK Policy: Despite their name, these tax-subsidized scholarships to private schools do not promote equal educational opportunity.

Tulsa school board hears revamped Indian Education Program reorganization proposal: Tulsa Public Schools presented its newest plan to transform the district’s Indian Education Program during a school board meeting Monday evening — about three months after the proposed reorganization was announced. [Tulsa World]

General News

The importance of Black homeownership in wealth creation: Income inequality and other underlying socio-economic conditions are the biggest hindrances to Black homeownership and wealth creation. Black households lack access to affordable financial products and are unable to transfer assets on to future generations. [Tulsa Star]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC Mayor: Plan to reopen ‘will prioritize life’ [The Journal Record]
  • OKC to reduce spending against revenue shortfall [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa Health Department says infections likely to peak on Tuesday [NewsOn6]
  • Bynum establishes economic recovery committee as he contemplates strategies for lifting social-distancing measures [Tulsa World]
  • Protesters rally in Tulsa against lockdowns: ‘Just open it up; we can handle it’ [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa tea party leader organizes back-to-work rallies [The Oklahoman]
  • With gas tax revenue dropping, Tulsa County summer road projects likely to scale back [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Two additional Cleveland County deaths reported, confirmed cases rise to 324 [OU Daily]
  • 2 new COVID-19 cases in NWOK; numbers climb 3% statewide with 3 more deaths reported Monday [Enid News & Eagle]
  • VA to hold COVID-19 drive-thru testing in Muskogee, Tulsa [Muskogee Phoenix]
  • City of Ada votes to require masks [Ada News]

Quote of the Day

“So far, the job loss in Oklahoma has been less than the rest of the nation. And we expect a smaller total job downturn, but we are also going to see a slower bounce back given the weakness in the oil and gas sector.”

-Oklahoma Tax Commission Executive Director Jay Doyle [Tulsa World

Number of the Day

25 million 

The decline, measured in barrels a day, that daily global oil consumption has dropped to date in April. This will be seven times larger than the biggest quarterly decline after the 2008 economic crash. That represents one quarter of the world’s normal daily consumption, which is just under 100 million barrels.

[Source: Axios]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Black Americans face alarming rates of coronavirus infection in some states: Data on race and the coronavirus is too limited to draw sweeping conclusions, experts say, but disparate rates of sickness — and death — have emerged in some places. [New York Times]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.