In The Know: Oklahoma lawmakers reveal budget agreement; includes corporate and income tax cuts, education and Medicaid funding

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.

New from OK Policy

Statement, Re: FY 2022 Budget Agreement: More than 100 days into this current legislative session, Oklahoma lawmakers emerged from weeks of closed door discussions to release details for the coming year’s state budget. Based on the information presented during a Thursday afternoon media conference, we’re pleased to hear lawmakers are funding Medicaid expansion, are planning additional investments in public education and broadband infrastructure, and are including a 7 percent aggregate increase for state agency budgets. We’re also pleased to hear that lawmakers intend to restore refundability for the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, a program that enjoys broad bipartisan support nationwide and would provide valuable relief to our state’s low-income workers. [OK Policy]

May 25 online event will help provide resources to help individuals, organizations connect Oklahomans to health care: As Oklahoma prepares to expand Medicaid coverage starting July 1, Oklahomans who are newly eligible for health care coverage need to know both that they are eligible to apply and how to apply for coverage. To fill this information gap, the Oklahoma Policy Institute and the Cover OK Health Care Coalition are co-hosting a May 25 online event to provide information and resources for organizations and individuals to help them connect fellow community members to health care coverage under Medicaid expansion. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Corporate, personal income tax cuts included in $8.3 billion state budget: In a last-minute twist, Oklahoma lawmakers included corporate and personal income tax cuts in the $8.3 billion state budget agreement announced Thursday. Senate Republicans previously said they had not widely supported the tax reforms because of concerns over financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic. The cuts would reduce the corporate income tax from 6 percent to 4 percent and the top personal income tax rate from 5 percent to 4.75 percent. [The Frontier] The corporate income tax cut will cost $48 million in the upcoming year and $110 million annually thereafter. The reduction in the personal income tax rate will cost $63 million in the upcoming year and $170 million in the years after. [The Oklahoman] The $8.3 billion spending plan avoids any cuts to the state budget, slashes taxes for low and high earners and puts hundreds of millions back into the state’s rainy day account. It also includes $232 million in new education funding and more than $100 million for new broadband, film and economic incentives. [Oklahoma Watch] While part of the education increase restores last year’s 2.5 percent cut, next fiscal year’s education funding hike includes additional money for textbooks and will result in capped class sizes for kindergarten and first grade in Oklahoma public schools. [NonDoc] The deal also restores the refundability of the earned income tax credit, which is designed to help low-income families. While Democrats support the restoration of the earned income tax credit, they expressed skepticism about the plan to cut income taxes, noting a major budget shortfall just three years ago forced lawmakers to raise taxes on cigarettes, fuel and energy production to help balance the budget and boost teacher pay. [AP News] Legislation containing the budget agreement is still being written, which drew criticism from independent think tank Oklahoma Policy Institute. “Oklahoma lags far behind neighboring states both when it comes to how soon budget bills are introduced and how long they are publicly deliberated. Our taxpayers should have the same opportunities as those living in surrounding states when it comes to having a voice in allocating scarce resources in a way that more closely reflects their preferences and our state’s needs,” the statement read. [Public Radio Tulsa] The budget funds Medicaid expansion with existing dollars within the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the state’s Medicaid agency. Voters approved State Question 802 calling for the expansion. But a fee paid by certain hospitals would have to be increased to pay for additional years of expansion, officials said. [Tulsa World] Read our statement on the FY 2022 budget agreement.

Oklahoma House leaders intend to fund privatized Medicaid if the Senate doesn’t approve a bill to halt the plan: Health Care officials have pushed lawmakers to use all available options to halt Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan to privatize Medicaid, but House leaders say they aren’t willing to use the state budget as a last-resort negotiation tool. Three weeks have passed since the House of Representatives voted in favor of Senate Bill 131, which would halt a plan for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to contract with four private insurance companies to deliver Medicaid benefits in the state. [The Frontier] OK Policy: Managed care is a bad investment for Oklahoma, but could be especially harmful for patients, providers, and Indigenous communities. See complete roundup of OK Policy analysis about the impacts of managed care in Oklahoma.

State: K-12 schools likely prohibited from requiring students be vaccinated against COVID: While some schools, colleges and universities elsewhere in the country have announced plans to require students be vaccinated against COVID-19, a top Oklahoma health official said Thursday that K-12 schools here will likely be prohibited from following suit. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • University of Oklahoma adopts limited vaccine requirements [AP News]
  • Oklahoma Officials Encourage Parents To Get Newly Eligible Kids Vaccinated [KOSU]
  • Oklahoma families find relief — and hope for summer plans — in COVID-19 vaccines for teens [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Study: Privatized Medicaid plan could cost state $900M: Oklahoma could expect a negative economic impact of $904 million if Medicaid is outsourced to insurance companies, according to a report examining Governor Stitt’s managed care plan. The economic impact report projects the state could lose nearly 5,500 jobs and almost $25 million in local, county and state tax revenue under the governor’s plan. Projections also show a direct loss of $480 million to the hospital industry statewide. [Southwest Ledger]

State Government News

Gov. Kevin Stitt signs state redistricting bills: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday signed bills that redraw legislative boundaries. The boundaries are required to be redrawn every decade to accommodate population changes. Stitt signed House Bill 1198, the House redistricting measure, and Senate Bill 1066, the Senate redistricting measure. Lawmakers are expected to return in special session in the fall to hammer out congressional redistricting. [Tulsa World]

Initial jobless claims drop for second consecutive week: After experiencing a mini-peak in April, initial jobless claims for regular unemployment benefits in the state declined for the second consecutive week, but were still nearly six times pre-pandemic levels. The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that 10,551 Oklahoma workers filed advance claims for regular unemployment insurance benefits the week ending Saturday, according to unseasonally adjusted data. [Tulsa World]

Mueller gives updates on economic initiatives: Several high-ranking officials delivered remarks today at a groundbreaking ceremony for a school in Tulsa that will train software engineers. Scott Mueller, Secretary of Commerce for Oklahoma, lauded Tulsa for leading the way in economic initiatives for Oklahoma. He pointed to the success of Tulsa Remote, saying it inspired the passing of HB 2860. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Federal Government News

Rep. Stephanie Bice backs bills to improve child care, parental leave for military members: Rep. Stephanie Bice is cosponsoring two bills aimed at helping military service members provide care for young children. One bill would increase parental leave and the other would expand and modernize child care options. Both are cosponsored by key Democrats on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. [The Oklahoman]

Rep. Stephanie Bice calls Liz Cheney a distraction, backs her removal from GOP leadership: Rep. Stephanie Bice and at least two other U.S. House members from Oklahoma backed the removal on Wednesday of Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney from the House Republican leadership team. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Interior Secretary Haaland approves new Cherokee Nation Constitution: U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland approved on Wednesday a new constitution for the Cherokee Nation, one that ensures full citizenship for descendants of Freedmen. Haaland was confirmed as Interior secretary March 15, and the agency said Cherokee Nation submitted the constitution for approval March 12. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma City Police fatally shoot man who claimed he had schizophrenia: The Oklahoma City Police Department released video on Thursday of an officer shooting and killing a man who said he was schizophrenic. A woman called police to report Daniel Hobbs was lying in a yard “staring at the clouds.” She said a neighbor held a victim’s protection order against the man. Police later discovered that wasn’t true. [KOSU]

Economy & Business News

Hospitality industry making OKC comeback: The hospitality industry in Oklahoma City is making a comeback. “After a really, really traumatic time for our industry … we are recovering. Leisure is the biggest driver of that,” Zac Craig said this week. “As we come out of this, we’ve got exciting assets for people to visit who are ready to get out.” [The Journal Record]

Education News

Millwood Board of Ed latest to denounce HB1775 anti-racism teaching ban: Millwood Public Schools in northeast Oklahoma City is the latest public school district to officially denounce HB1775 now signed into law by Governor Kevin Stitt. In a unanimous vote Wednesday at a special meeting, the Board of Education voted to “denounce” HB1775 and recommit to the full teaching of history which will cover topics uncomfortable to some. [OKC Free Press]

General News

Older Tulsa Massacre Survivor turns 107 as fight against the city continues: According to Tulsa World, Viola Fletcher, who turned 107, is believed to be the oldest survivor of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in Oklahoma. NowThis presented a tribute video to Fletcher where personal messages from the likes of actors Danny Glover and Piper Perabo and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker were shared. [Black Enterprise]

OKC scrapyard operator to build 30-foot wall in response to blast complaints by neighbors: Residents in the John F. Kennedy neighborhood are hoping they may finally get some relief from decades of explosions at a neighboring recycling plant with a plan proposed to build a 30-foot-high sound absorbing wall. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“[W]e remained deeply concerned that lawmakers are moving forward with cuts to corporate and individual income taxes. While the tax cuts appear to be lower than were initially proposed this session, any revenue cut comes with real economic impact to our communities. Economists estimate that every $1 cut from state spending takes $1.50 out of our economy as a result of lost jobs and reduced personal income.”

– OK Policy Statement on the Oklahoma Legislature’s FY 2022 budget agreement [OK Policy]

Number of the Day


The number of floor amendments to the state budget considered in the Texas House of Representatives. Oklahoma does not normally consider amendments to the budget.

[Source: Texas Legislature Online]

Policy Note

A Guide to Better State Budgeting Practices: Because budgets have so many functions, the process of writing one is often conflict-ridden, unsatisfactory to observers and participants, and flawed in its outcomes. Budgets seem to increase rather than resolve partisan competition; they sometimes are late; they may leave problems unresolved; they spend too much or too little; they may fail to include adequate program review, planning for the future, accounting for past expenses or controls on planned spending. This document highlights some central issues in the state budgeting process, summarizes current thinking on them, and identifies some mechanisms and techniques that can help solve problems in the process. [National Conference of State Legislatures]

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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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