In The Know: Revenue failure and 6.5 percent budget cuts expected if teacher funding bill repealed

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

Revenue Failure a Concern If Teacher Pay Raise Funding Bill Repealed, Panel Told: If an effort to repeal a tax hike for teacher pay raises is successful, the state would see a revenue failure, the Board of Equalization was told Monday. The end result would be across-the-board cuts to state agencies of about 6.5 percent, including to the Oklahoma Department of Education, said Denise Northrup, Office of Management and Enterprise Services director [Tulsa World]. What we know – and don’t know – about the revenue bill veto challenge [OKPolicy].

Out-Of-State Money Floods Oklahoma Congressional Campaigns: Out-of-state interests are increasingly spending money and spending it earlier in attempt to influence Oklahoma’s congressional races. Recently released campaign finance records show nearly half of all money raised so far among the 39 candidates running for one of the state’s five U.S. House seats has come from out of state. An Oklahoma Watch analysis of the filings found that individuals or political action committees based outside the state have spent nearly $3.2 million on the campaigns [Oklahoma Watch].

Oklahomans Can Vote Starting Thursday: County election boards across the state will open for early voting from Thursday to Saturday this week. Voters will be able to cast their ballots in the primary election for statewide and local races, along with State Question 788 that, if passed, would approve state-sanctioned medical marijuana. Election Day is June 26, a Tuesday, but Oklahoma law allows registered voters to cast in-person absentee ballots at their county election boards before each election on Thursday and Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., then on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. [NewsOK]. Oklahoma 2018 State Questions and Elections [OKPolicy].

After Prison, Many Oklahomans Are Banned from Voting for Years: For Robin Wertz, the wait will be long before she can cast a ballot at an Oklahoma polling place. Wertz, who runs a nonprofit center in Oklahoma City that helps people transition from prison back into society, is prohibited from voting in any election until 2024. That’s in spite of the fact that she has been out of prison for 11 years, works full-time, has never re-offended and can travel abroad with no restrictions. “I’ve never even received a traffic ticket,” Wertz said of her time since leaving prison. “It’s like I’m still being punished” [Oklahoma Watch].

(Capitol Update) As Election Day Approaches, Support for Sq 788 May Be Narrowing: The June 26 primary elections are coming on quickly now. A lot of candidates, both new political entries and incumbents are starting to feel the pressure. In most campaigns the early months are consumed by planning, making contacts with potential supporters and the all-important fundraising. This is especially true for non-incumbents. They are generally not public figures yet and don’t have as much access to campaign funds as those already in office [OKPolicy]. Fact Sheet: State Question 788 – Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative [OKPolicy].

Fallin Predicts Special Session If Medical Marijuana Passes: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says she expects to call lawmakers back to the Capitol for a special session if Oklahoma voters approve a state question next week to allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Fallin on Monday expressed reservations about State Question 788 and said the Legislature would need to establish a legal framework for regulating the use of medical marijuana if the measure passes [KOCO]. How would medical marijuana be taxed if State Question 788 passes? [KFOR].

Stitt Loans Another $606,000 to GOP Gubernatorial Campaign: Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Stitt on Friday loaned his campaign another $606,000 and has now put $2.8 million of his own money into the race. Stitt’s campaign filed a report Saturday reflecting the new loan. A report filed earlier this year showed Stitt had loaned his campaign $1.5 million through March. A report due at the Oklahoma Ethics Commission on Monday will show Stitt loaned the campaign another $675,000 between April 1 and June 11. The loan on Friday brought the total to $2.78 million [NewsOK].

Oklahoma AG Candidate Gentner Drummond, Law Firm Accused of Negligence over Handling of Probate Case: A candidate for attorney general and his law firm were accused in May of negligence and breach of duty in their handling of a probate case. The Republican candidate, Gentner Drummond, has acknowledged the probate case was filed in the wrong county but says it wasn’t his fault. “The attorney responsible for that error is no longer employed by the Drummond law firm,” his campaign said Sunday [NewsOK].

County Health Departments in Oklahoma Cut Back After Layoffs: In some county health departments in Oklahoma, staffing is so tight that the regional administrator is staffing the front desk to keep clinics open at least a few days a week. The staffing shortage has forced clinics to reduce the number of people they serve and to delay visits [NewsOK]. The Oklahoma State Department of Health’s new administration has begun reversing some of the cuts that the last one implemented, sparking some hope that the agency is on the road to recovery [Journal Record].

Unwieldy Health Costs Often Stand Between Teachers and Fatter Paychecks: As teacher strikes flared this spring in more than half a dozen states, from West Virginia to Arizona, protesters bemoaned stagnant salaries, overcrowded classrooms and a lack of basic supplies like textbooks and computers. But often missing from hand-scrawled placards and fiery speeches was an issue that has contributed greatly to the financial woes of America’s schools: skyrocketing health care costs [Kaiser Health News]. Oklahoma teachers’ real take home pay has shrunk for 10 out of the past 11 years [OKPolicy].

Solar Power Is Growing in Rural Areas of Oklahoma and the U.S.: As Ron Hays at the Oklahoma Farm Report notes, more farmers in the U.S. are taking advantage of solar power for their electricity needs. Federal tax credits and lower costs are spurring more solar growth in rural areas. While Oklahoma does not have much commercial solar development, it is growing. OGE has created three solar farms in the past few years [OK Energy Today].

$30k Now Expected Annually After Assessor Fixes Mistake That Left Tulsa Business Untaxed for Years: The Tulsa County Assessor’s Office has placed a business property on the tax rolls that mistakenly has gone untaxed for years, an official confirmed. Pat Milton, Tulsa County Assessor first deputy, said in an interview that a tax notice has been mailed to the owner of Imperial Company, 2020 N. Mingo Road, following an investigation by county staff into the matter. A building owned by Imperial Company that was constructed on exempt government land had been miscategorized for years as exempt from ad valorem, or property taxes, Milton said [Tulsa World].

Sen Lankford’s Office Picketed over Border Child Separations: A group protesting the current U.S. policy of separating children from families attempting to cross the border gathered outside Senator James Lankford’s OKC offices Monday. Protesters called the policy “egregious,” “torture,” “a violation of human rights,” and “the height of evil.” And Native Americans at the protest said the policy was “not something new” and that it was “the history of this country” [Free Press OKC].

Quote of the Day

“I’ve never even received a traffic ticket. It’s like I’m still being punished.”

-OKC non-profit director Robin Wertz, who is barred from voting in Oklahoma until 2024 despite being out of prison for 11 years [Oklahoma Watch].

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahomans who died due to heart disease in 2016 – the leading cause of death in the state.

[Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

5 Things to Know About Medicaid Work Requirements: They say the administration’s approach of requiring enrollees to work to get health coverage is backward because enrollees need health coverage so they are healthy enough to work. “There is zero evidence to suggest that depriving people of Medicaid will lead to greater levels of employer insurance,” 40 health policy scholars wrote in an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit filed on behalf of several Kentucky Medicaid enrollees. “The CMS work ‘demonstration’ destroys, not improves, Kentucky’s substantial health care achievements and defeats, rather than promotes, Medicaid’s purpose as a safety net insurer,” according to the brief [Kaiser Health News].

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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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