In The Know: Revenue numbers show mixed bag for Oklahoma budget

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 Numbers Show Mixed Bag for Oklahoma Budget: Revenue collections continue to climb as Oklahoma emerges from an economic recession, but the Legislature still will have a $167 million hole to fill in next year’s budget because of increasing obligations, according to figures a key state budget panel approved Tuesday. The Board of Equalization, led by Gov. Mary Fallin, authorized $7 billion for the Legislature to spend on the new fiscal year that begins July 1. That’s an increase of $104 million over what was appropriated on the current year’s budget. But Fallin noted that increase doesn’t include about $270 million in new obligations for next year, including $110 million to cover a loss of federal funding for the state’s two medical schools. [Associated Press]

Oklahoma Legislature Finishing Budget 8 Months After It Started: The sometimes-raucous Oklahoma House of Representatives quietly closed the latest chapter on a political saga that’s gripped Oklahomans for months with a vote Monday to cut spending by another $44.7 million. After all the negotiations, late-night meetings and proposals to cover spending priorities set back in May, both Republicans and Democrats said the outcome isn’t ideal. But the vote — eight months in the making — is the one that will let agencies and legislative leaders turn their focus to the next budget cycle that begins July 1 [NewsOK]. Public Schools Bracing for Another Round of Midyear Budget Reductions, to the Tune of $16.2 Million [Tulsa World].

Legislature Moves Toward Ending Oklahoma’s Capital Gains Tax Break:  The days may be numbered for a costly tax incentive largely used by wealthy Oklahomans. Sen. Dave Rader said Oklahoma’s capital gains income tax deduction isn’t benefiting the state. “In five years from 2010 to 2014, the deduction brought a positive value to the state of $9 million but yet was a negative to $474 million to the state,” Rader said, citing a study done for the Oklahoma Incentive Evaluation Commission [Public Radio Tulsa]. In a recent report, Oklahoma was ranked among the top 10 states for lowest taxes [Tulsa World]. Research has found no connection between lower capital gains taxes and economic growth [OK Policy].

Rising Rents Force Some Families into Homelessness: About nine years ago, Lisa, a single mother in her 30s, showed up at the Oklahoma City factory where she worked part-time. At the start of her shift, a manager called her and several other employees into a meeting, where Lisa found out the company planned to make her a full-time employee. It sounded like good news, at first. More hours would mean more money for her and her teenage daughter. But soon afterward, Lisa, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym for this story, found out the change would mean she lost the federal housing subsidies she used to pay her rent [NewsOK].

Bill Watch: Teacher pay and charter school oversight top the education agenda for this year’s Legislature: When OK Policy shared our policy priorities this year, we included just one policy specifically related to education: increase teacher pay. However you measure it, Oklahoma teachers are not being paid a competitive salary. Oklahoma teachers would need a $3,000 raise for their salary and benefits to match the average of our surrounding states. They would need a $7,000 raise to match Oklahoma’s cost-of-living compared to the national average. They would need a $13,000 raise to reach the national average without accounting for cost-of-living [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma Announces New Curriculum Covering 1921 Tulsa Race Riots: As Black History Month events unfold across the nation, Oklahoma officials unveiled a new curriculum Tuesday designed to make sure the state gives proper coverage to the nation’s worst race riots, in Tulsa in 1921. An estimated 300 people were killed in the riots that laid waste to the Greenwood section of Tulsa, a thriving black neighborhood that was so successful it was known as the “Black Wall Street” [Washington Times].

Hofmeister Names SPI Alum Julian Guerrero Jr. Executive Director for American Indian Education: In a key hire, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister  announced Monday that Julian Guerrero Jr. will serve as executive director for American Indian Education at the Oklahoma State Department of Education. In his new position, Guerrero will work to further the educational opportunities of American Indian students in Oklahoma while facilitating collaboration among Oklahoma’s tribal nations, school districts and educators. [The Ada News].

Fear of Recreational Marijuana Legalization Apparently Prompts Move to Curb Initiative Petitions: Apparently, some legislators are so concerned about recreational marijuana becoming legal in Oklahoma that they want to make it harder for initiative petitions to get on statewide ballots.House Bill 1603, by Rep. John Enns, R-Enid, proposes a constitutional amendment that could increase the number of signatures required for initiative petitions to be placed on the ballot and would require that a minimum number of signatures be obtained in each of the state’s 77 counties [Tulsa World].

Bill Would Expand Casino Offerings: Republican state Sen. Greg McCortney has proposed a full house of changes to the games allowed by Native American tribes. The Ada-based senator’s Senate Bill 1195 would allow non-house-banked games involving a wheel, ball, or dice. It would also give tribes the option to have sports betting if it is allowed by federal law. The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing the constitutionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 and is expected to rule before summer’s end. [Journal Record].

Environmental Groups Fight State’s Effort to Regulate Coal Ash on Its Own: Environmental groups and concerned residents this week told federal officials the Oklahoma agency charged with protecting air, land and water lacked the resources and rules to manage a state-run plan to regulate coal ash. Companies that produce and store coal ash support the program, which, if approved, would oversee the waste’s disposal into landfills and ponds at six sites across the state, most of which are located near coal-fired power plants. The byproduct of coal-fired power plants is known to contain toxic substances like arsenic, chromium, lead and mercury. [KOSU].

NRA’s Campaign Cash Only a Trickle in Oklahoma. Who Gets It?: In Oklahoma, it’s no secret that residents strongly support the Second Amendment and their right to own firearms. But despite Oklahoma’s image as a ruby-red Republican stronghold, the state’s politicians aren’t awash in cash from the gun lobby. An Oklahoma Watch check of campaign finance records shows relatively little spending by the National Rifle Association on Oklahoma politicians [Journal Record].

Quote of the Day

“In five years from 2010 to 2014, the [capital gains tax] deduction brought a positive value to the state of $9 million but yet was a negative of $474 million to the state,”

– Senator Dave Rader (R-Tulsa), who is sponsoring a bill to end Oklahoma’s capital gains tax break [Source].

Number of the Day


Percentage of adults in Oklahoma who report being unable to see a doctor due to prohibitive costs.

Source: Prosperity Now

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Least Connected People in America: As broadband internet becomes more and more important in the U.S. — the way Americans do everything from apply for jobs to chatting with their relatives to watching TV — one gap has become more glaring: the difference between those who have broadband and those who don’t. An estimated 24 million people, about 8 percent of Americans, still have no home access to high-speed internet service, defined by the Federal Communications Commission as a download speed of 25 megabits per second. (That’s what the FCC says allows telecommuting or streaming high-definition video.) Nowhere is the “digital divide” more extreme than on tribal lands [Politico].

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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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