In The Know: Oklahoma business tax credits again fall under scrutiny

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 Rep. David Dank held the first meeting of a new legislative panel to scrutinize corporate tax credits. A Tulsa County Undersheriff said that implementation of the new criminal justice reforms could result in backups at his jail and others. See OK Policy’s analysis of the law here. Former Gov. Brad Henry will lead a bipartisan discussion on internet sales tax.

The OK Policy Blog explains why there are not enough savings to be found in school district consolidation to significantly increase funds going to the classroom. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discusses the untold story of the federal stimulus.  A U.S. District Judge gave Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt seven days to file an amended complaint in his suit against the Affordable Care Act or see it dismissed. The longtime director of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority says he’s planning to retire in March.

Gov. Mary Fallin will be the keynote speaker at a summit for businesses and public agencies interested in converting their vehicle fleets to run on compressed natural gas. The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded Oklahoma more than $2 million in grants to help curtail several types of pollution in watersheds. Grand River Dam Authority board member David Chernicky resigned unexpectedly Wednesday, citing business demands.

The Number of the Day is the ratio of cost per prisoner to cost per public school student in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, Jared Bernstein maps out the process of job creation through monetary and fiscal policy.

In The News

Oklahoma business tax credits again fall under scrutiny

A legislator continued his scrutiny Wednesday of corporate tax credits after lawmakers earlier this year rejected measures intended to put more controls on the economic incentives. Dank, R-Oklahoma City, last year headed up an interim House of Representatives task force that met for five months and developed proposals outlawing transferable tax credits and developing criteria for tax credits to meet. All failed to advance during this year’s session. Dank said various pieces of legislation to change the way tax credits are issued were killed in committees on bipartisan votes. Dank said having a legislative panel instead of a task force, which is made up of several members in addition to lawmakers, gives him optimism that recommendations will have better luck next year. Dank’s committee plans to meet three more times to review economic tax credits and incentives claimed by business entities. It will not review personal tax credits or incentives that are claimed by individuals.

Read more from NewsOK.

New law could increase backlog at Oklahoma jails

Tulsa County Undersheriff Tim Albin said Thursday that implementation of a highly touted criminal justice law could result in backups at his jail and others. Albin’s comments were made Thursday following a meeting of the working group monitoring the implementation of House Bill 3052 by House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee. The measure requires mandatory supervision for felons discharging their sentence and creates a grant program within the Attorney General’s Office for local law enforcement agencies. It creates intermediary revocation facilities for those who violate conditions of probation. It has been hailed as a way to reduce the state’s rising prison population and increase public safety. Albin said the offenders who are going to be sent to the intermediate revocation facilities for technical violations could require lengthy stays in his jail before they are taken to the Department of Corrections.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Previously: Reforming Criminal Justice: What the latest bill does and what stands in the way from the OK Policy Blog

Former Governor Brad Henry to lead discussion in Oklahoma City on internet sales tax

Former Gov. Brad Henry will lead a bipartisan discussion on internet sales tax and the impact that the lack of such a tax on certain online retailers has on so-called brick-and-mortar buildings in the state. Others scheduled to take part in the discussion Friday are House Speaker Kris Steele, state Treasurer Ken Miller, former Treasurer Scott Meacham and city officials, business officials and Chamber of Commerce officials from across the state. The meeting will be held at Oklahoma City University.

From the Associated Press.

School consolidation won’t fix the funding gap

Funding for Oklahoma schools has fallen dramatically in recent years, with Oklahoma spending $706 less per student in inflation-adjusted dollars than we did in FY 2008. Polls show that Oklahomans are worried about it. In response to the growing concern, some have argued that we only need to reduce administrative costs. They point to Oklahoma’s unusually large number of school districts for a state our size and say that by consolidating some of these districts, we could put more resources into the classroom without spending more on the education system overall. So how much could we save from consolidating? New numbers from the U.S. Census help to break it down.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

The untold stimulus story

When Democratic leaders took to the stage at their convention last week in Charlotte, N.C., they offered full-throated defenses of the Obama administration’s actions to rescue the auto industry, reform health care, expand rights for gays and immigrants and take down terrorists. Noted far less by Democrats was another signature accomplishment of the last four years: the $787 billion stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in February 2009. The silence was unfortunate, because the stimulus played a crucial and successful role in propping up a national economy in free fall and averting a full-fledged budget crisis in the states.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Oklahoma’s court challenge to Affordable Care Act at a crossroads

Oklahoma’s long-delayed court challenge against the federal Affordable Care Act will either die or have taken a dramatic new turn by the middle of next week. U.S. District Judge Ronald White of the Muskogee-based Eastern District U.S. Court lifted his own Nov. 23 stay on the case this week at the request of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. On Wednesday, White gave Pruitt seven days to file an amended complaint in the case or see it dismissed. Pruitt originally filed the case in early 2011, arguing that the law – “Obamacare” to its opponents – could not be enforced in Oklahoma, which has a state constitutional provision prohibiting an individual mandate to purchase insurance. The high court ruled in June that the federal law was essentially constitutional, undercutting Pruitt’s original argument.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

CEO of Oklahoma Health Care Authority to retire

The longtime director of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority says he’s planning to step down. Health Care Authority CEO Mike Fogarty announced at the agency’s regular board meeting on Thursday that he plans to retire in March. The 64-year-old Fogarty has served at the agency’s chief executive officer for the last 13 years and before that he served as the agency’s state Medicaid director. He first went to work for the state in 1971 as a social worker at the Department of Human Services. The agency has more than 400 employees and oversees the federal Medicaid program in Oklahoma.

Read more from NewsOK.

CNG Summit to discuss conversion of vehicles

The first CNG Summit is all about talking past the politics to how compressed natural gas fleets work in the real world, one of its planners said Wednesday. Gov. Mary Fallin will be the keynote speaker during Wednesday’s event at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Schusterman Learning Center. The event also will feature representatives from businesses and public agencies that have converted many of their vehicles to run on CNG. Fallin has pushed for greater use of domestically produced natural gas, particularly in fleet vehicles. The state still offers tax incentives for CNG conversions or vehicle purchases.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

EPA grants to help with runoff pollution in Oklahoma waters

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded Oklahoma more than $2 million in grants to help curtail several types of pollution in watersheds. The money will go to the state’s secretary of environment to support the Oklahoma Nonpoint Source Management Plan, an ongoing effort to deal with runoff pollution from several sources. Nonpoint source pollution in Oklahoma is mostly carried from rainwater flowing across and into the ground. As it does, it may pick up pollutants such as excess fertilizer, animal waste or oil and grease from urban runoff. Tyler Powell, director of the environment secretary’s office, said the grant money is actually an extra allocation provided by the EPA. It comes from other states in the region that didn’t spend the money on environmental projects.

Read more from NewsOK.

Longtime GRDA board member resigns

Sometimes controversial Grand River Dam Authority board member David Chernicky resigned unexpectedly Wednesday, citing business demands. Chernicky, a flamboyant oil and gas executive who at times has been a major Democratic donor, clashed on occasion with the administration of Republican Gov. Mary Fallin and once said the Fallin camp had pressured him to resign, but on Wednesday he said his decision to give up the directorship he’s held since December 2003 was strictly about business. “I’m just so busy (that GRDA duties) just became a real chore,” he said. Chernicky is the second GRDA board member from Tulsa to resign in recent weeks. Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett quit last month, also citing time constraints. A December state auditor and inspector’s report criticized some board members’ attendance records and led to legislation allowing directors with excessive absences to be replaced.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Quote of the Day

Tax credits are some of the biggest sacred cows in Oklahoma as we learned last spring. And it is time for this committee to begin slaying some sacred cows.

Rep. David Dank, to a special House committee formed to review corporate tax credits and incentives.

Number of the Day


Ratio of cost per prisoner to cost per public school student in Oklahoma, or – the state spends over twice as much per inmate on imprisonment than it does per student on public education, 2012

Source: Children’s Defense Fund

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Where do jobs come from?

In discussions about the Fed actions yesterday, it occurred to me that many of the explanations that link the Fed’s moves to stronger job growth leave out a number of steps in the middle. It’s of course not the case that the Fed buys MBS or announces they’ll keep rates low and jobs that weren’t there before suddenly appear. There’s a chain of events that needs to occur and there’s plenty of slip twixt the cup and the lip. So let’s talk about the process of job creation, both in normal times and in times like these.

Read more from Jared Bernstein.

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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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