In The Know: Senate approves $7.1 billion budget bill

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 the state’s $7.1 billion budget bill cleared the Senatate and is on its way to Gov. Fallin. The OK Policy Blog previously shared what you need to know about the state budget agreement. State revenue in April topped projections, bringing collections to about 1 percent above this time last year.

A proposed Oklahoma pop culture museum is getting more support and donations from entertainment industry stars, but it still waits for a bond issue from the Legislature. The OK Policy Blog discussed social impact bonds, a promising new approach that Oklahoma could use to fund smart on crime reforms. Voters in the Tulsa Public Schools district approved a $38 million bond issue that will provide every teacher with modern instructional technology and students with up-to-date computers. Public schools across the state would be able to “opt out” of many state mandates under a bill approved by the Oklahoma House. 

Civilians working for the U.S. Defense Department — including about 24,000 in Oklahoma — will be furloughed for 11 days beginning July 8. Multiple Oklahomans have been arrested after chaining themselves to equipment to block construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline through the state. Under threat of a lawsuit, a Muldrow high school removed 10 Commandments plaques from its classrooms. A map of hate speech on Twitter finds that it dramatically exceeds the national average in tweets coming out of Elk City and along the Oklahoma-Texas border.

The Number of the Day is the projected GDP growth over 10 years if the U.S. granted resident immigrants legal status and a pathway to citizenship. In today’s Policy Note, Wonkblog discusses new Congressional Budget Office projections that the U.S. deficit problem is solved for the next 10 years.

In The News

Senate approves $7.1 billion budget bill

The state’s $7.1 billion budget bill cleared its last legislative hurdle Tuesday and is on its way to Gov. Mary Fallin for expected final approval. The Senate voted 28-20 to pass House Bill 2301, with eight Republicans joining 12 Democrats to vote against the budget measure for the 2014 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The House of Representatives voted 59-40 last week to pass the measure. Twelve Republicans joined 28 Democrats to oppose the measure. No Democrat in either chamber voted for the bill. Most of those asking questions about the measure complained that additional money could have gone to core services.

Read more from NewsOK.

Previously: What you need to know about the state budget agreement from the OK Policy Blog.

Oklahoma pop museum gets support from stars but lacks go-ahead from Legislature

Actress Mary Kay Place lent her support — and some of her movie wardrobe — to an effort to build a pop culture museum, while the head of the Oklahoma Historical Society urged lawmakers to authorize a bond issue for the project. Bob Blackburn said Monday no additional state appropriations are needed to construct or operate the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture in Tulsa, but the Legislature would need to support a $42.5 million bond issue for the project to move forward. He said he is concerned that a donation of land in the Brady Arts District for the OKPOP Museum and parking garage may be revoked if the bonds don’t proceed.

Read more from NewsOK.

Oklahoma’s April state revenue tops projections

State revenues for April came in about 15 percent higher than the same month a year ago, Oklahoma finance officials said Tuesday. The boost pushes revenue collections for the first 10 months of this fiscal year to about 1.1 percent higher than the estimate used to craft the 2013 fiscal year budget. As of last month, collections were just 0.4 percent higher than the official estimate. Last month, total collections for the 2013 fiscal year were 1.3 percent below the amount generated for the same period a year ago. Collections so far this fiscal year are about 1 percent above collections for the same time period last year.

Read more from NewsOK.

Social impact bonds could fund smart on crime reforms (Guest Post: John Pearson)

Social Impact bonds (SIB) are a promising new approach to government financing of social programs or social “interventions.” By combining performance-based payments and market discipline, the approach has the potential to improve results, overcome barriers to social innovation, and encourage investment in cost-saving preventive services. In Oklahoma, SIB’s could provide a funding source to provide assistance to the eight thousand plus individuals released annually by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to transition from incarceration to becoming a successful employed neighbor.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Voters approve Tulsa Public Schools technology bond issue

Voters in the Tulsa Public Schools district approved a $38 million bond issue Tuesday that will provide every teacher with modern instructional technology and students with up-to-date computers. Teachers and principals led the charge for a technology-specific proposal because most Tulsa schools lack the technology already available in nearly every suburban school. Educators worked with informational technology experts and the TPS Citizens Bond Development Committee to craft the “Smart and Secure Schools” bond, which voters passed 9,193 to 4,439.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

House approves school deregulation bill

Public schools across the state would be able to “opt out” of many state mandates under a bill approved by the Oklahoma House. The House voted 70-17 on Tuesday for the School District Empowerment Program by Dacoma Republican Rep. Jeff Hickman. The bill allows school districts to opt out of most of the state mandates that charter schools are not required to follow. Under the bill, individual school districts would first have to seek permission from the state Board of Education to be deregulated. Former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry vetoed a similar bill several years ago.

Read more from NewsOn6.

Defense Department announces 11 days of furloughs, beginning in July

Civilians working for the U.S. Defense Department — including about 24,000 in Oklahoma — will be furloughed for 11 days beginning July 8, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday. The furlough days — two per pay period — will be spread out over the last three months of the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, Hagel said at a town hall meeting with defense workers just outside Washington. Hagel, who noted that earlier furlough plans had envisioned 22 or 14 days without pay, said he and other Pentagon leaders did all they could to spare workers and their families. But, he said, the budget cuts triggered on March 1 already had sliced too deeply into training, maintenance and other defense needs.

Read more from NewsOK.

Multiple protesters arrested at Keystone XL pipeline construction site

A 60-year old Oklahoma City man was arrested Monday after he locked himself to construction equipment in protest of the Keystone XL pipeline under construction in southern Oklahoma. Bob Waldrop was jailed and later freed after posting a $250 bond. A spokesman for TransCanada, Jim Prescott, said it is another example why the company went to court last week seeking a temporary restraining order to bar protesters from the pipeline construction sites. Waldrop, as a founding member of the Oscar Romero Catholic Workers House, is a part of Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, a growing coalition of groups and individuals dedicated to stopping the expansion of Tar Sands infrastructure throughout the Great Plains. His action follows an escalating number of work-stopping actions, of which there were five in April alone, in Oklahoma.

Read more from Oklahoma Energy Today.

Muldrow school to remove 10 Commandments plaques from classrooms

It was standing room only in the spacious Muldrow Public Schools cafeteria as hundreds of area residents crowded into a School Board meeting Monday to discuss the Ten Commandments plaques posted in each classroom for two decades. The plaques, which had been donated to the district in the early 1990s, were removed by Monday. Many attendees arrived in vehicles upon which Christian slogans were written or posted. Many wore clothing proclaiming their religious beliefs. Many teens attended, wearing black “Don’t Quit for Christ” T-shirts.

Read more from the Southwest Times Record.

Where hate speech happens

Where does hate speech happen? It turns out, it occurs most often on the eastern half of the U.S. and in rural areas of the country. Researchers created a heat map to demonstrate the frequency of hateful tweets relative to all tweets. The map shows “a comparison of places with disproportionately high amounts of a particular hate word relative to all tweeting activity.” Those areas are indicated with blue or red shading, moving from light blue to dark red as the proportion of hate speech increases. Areas with no shading indicate a lower proportion of negative tweets relative to the national average. In Oklahoma, red circles of smog appear near Elk City, and along the Texas border. Blue smog is sprinkled across the central and eastern part of the state, notably near Enid and Tulsa.

Read more from This Land Press.

Quote of the Day

I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t want my office remodeled.

Sen. Charles Wyrick, D-Fairland, who said he found out his office would be among those that the Legislature budgeted $5 million to be renovated. Wyrick said the money should instead be spent on education.

Number of the Day

$1.4 trillion

Projected GDP growth over 10 years if the U.S. granted resident immigrants legal status and a pathway to citizenship; conversely, mass deportation and ‘zero-immigration’ enforcement policies would decrease GDP by $2.6 trillion over the same period.

Source: Immigration Policy Center, 2013

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

CBO says deficit problem is solved for the next 10 years

It looks like we’ve moved to talking about possible scandals just in time, because according to the Congressional Budget Office, the debt disaster that has obsessed the political class for the last three years is pretty much solved, at least for the next 10 years or so. The last time the CBO estimated our future deficits was February– just four short months ago. Back then, the CBO thought deficits were falling and health-care costs were slowing. Today, the CBO thinks deficits are falling even faster and health-care costs are slowing by even more. Here’s the short version: Washington’s most powerful budget nerds have cut their prediction for 2013 deficits by more than $200 billion. They’ve cut their projections for our deficits over the next decade by more than $600 billion. Add it all up and our 10-year deficits are looking downright manageable.

Read more from the Washington Post.

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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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