In The Know: Senate sends historic revenue bill to governor

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.

[Note: In The Know will not publish tomorrow for the holiday. It will return Monday.]

Today In The News

Money for Education: Senate Sends Historic Revenue Bill to Governor: Oklahoma teachers will see their first state-paid raises in more than a decade — and the largest raise in state history — if Gov. Mary Fallin signs HB 1010XX, which passed the Senate this evening. But proposed amendments to other bills and an apparent agreement between the Senate and the House to repeal HB 1010XX’s new $5 hotel-motel tax via a trailer bill means lawmakers have more work to do to finalize the funding plan [NonDoc]. How They Voted: Oklahoma senate on bill for teacher raises; tax increases [Tulsa World]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special sessions [OK Policy].

Controversial Hotel Tax Set for Repeal: A tax provision shoehorned into a historic revenue package has many residents in the hotel and tourism industries concerned, but it could be repealed this week. On Monday night, the House of Representatives introduced and passed a massive tax plan for the first time in nearly 30 years. It included several familiar components, such as hikes on cigarettes and oil and gas production. However, it also included a $5-per-night tax on all occupied hotel and motel rooms. That portion immediately created friction with a few members whose districts depend on tourism [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Teachers Say New Bill Isn’t Good Enough to Stop Walkout: Late Wednesday night, the Oklahoma state Senate passed a series of tax increases that would fund raises for teachers, taking the legislation one step closer to passing before they stage an April 2 walkout. But it might be too little too late: the Oklahoma Education Association teachers’ union said the bill, as it is now, isn’t enough to stop their plans. [Vice News]. Teacher walkout plans unknown following Senate vote [NewsOK]. State Funding Crisis and the Teacher Walkout: Resources & Information [OK Policy].

Prosperity Policy: A Big Deal: The legislation passed Monday night by the Oklahoma House of Representatives truly is, in words that Joe Biden might have expressed somewhat more colorfully, a big deal. It’s a big deal that, for the first time, a major tax increase cleared the daunting three-quarters supermajority hurdle, established by State Question 640 in 1992, in the House of Representatives. Seventy-nine House members approved a bill that included increases in tobacco, motor fuel, and gross production taxes, along with a new lodging tax, totaling over $500 million in new, recurring revenue [David Blatt/Journal Record].

Teacher Pay Plan Comes with Risk of Eroding Funding Streams: Lawmakers debating a giant revenue package to pay for teacher raises face an old dilemma: They want a mixture of higher taxes, but also want those tax collections to be there in the long term. The House advanced a plan Monday to raise more than $500 million to pay for the raises and potentially avert a teacher walkout. But the three main revenue sources targeted for tax increases – oil and gas production, motor fuel and tobacco products – have become, or are at risk of becoming, a less dependable state funding source. [Oklahoma Watch].

Lawmakers Have Their Sights on Medicaid with Proposals That Could Result in Fewer Low-Income Oklahomans Receiving Benefits: Oklahoma will soon hire a private contractor to crack down on Medicaid fraud, identifying people who might no longer be eligible for the low-income health program and sending recommendations for benefits cancellation. It’s unclear how many of the nearly 800,000 Oklahomans, most of whom are children, would lose health care coverage under the new law [Oklahoma Gazette]. Advocacy Alert: Stop Attacks on SoonerCare [OK Policy].

New Oklahoma Stable Accounts Will Make It Easier for Oklahomans with Disabilities to Save for the Future: Most all of us understand the importance of saving money for the future, and that understanding leads many of us to take advantage of tax-free savings and retirement plans such as 401(k)s, Roth IRAs, and 529 college savings plans. But for the 4.5 million disabled adults relying on SSI (Supplemental Security Income) payments, saving money for the future has been discouraged until the recent passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act [Amy Smith/OKPolicy].

State Department of Health Gets New Interim Commissioner: The Oklahoma State Department of Health has a new interim commissioner: former Assistant Attorney General Tom Bates. The board appointed Bates in a special meeting Wednesday afternoon and voted to give him the same salary as the former interim commissioner, $189,000. He left the attorney general’s office in 2014 to become a special adviser to Gov. Mary Fallin focused on child welfare and implementation of the Pinnacle Plan, an improvement plan developed from a class-action lawsuit settlement [NewsOK].

Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners Recommend Fee Hikes to Help Support the Agency’s Operations: Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners voted Tuesday to recommend a variety of proposed new and increased fees to the Legislature and governor. Before voting, commissioners said they unanimously support seeking the additional millions of dollars in proposed revenue included in the recommendation to support the agency’s ongoing operations [NewsOK].

How Bad Is Mental Health in Tulsa? Study Portrays ‘Alarming’ Statistics but Offers Hope: Tulsa Public Schools staff come across a suicide note nearly once a day from elementary or middle-school students, and Tulsans with chronic severe mental illness die 27 years earlier on average than all Oklahomans. Those “alarming” snapshots of Tulsa, where 1 in 7 people have a mental illness, are in a new study that illustrates the dire situation in which Oklahoma is mired through disinvestment from and stigmatization of mental-health and substance-abuse care [Tulsa World]. 

Oklahoma Boys Home Closing Amid Budget Crisis: An Oklahoma boys’ home is closing its doors after more than a decade of service. White Fields is home to boys who have circumstances that are beyond what traditional foster homes can provide. I’m a letter to volunteers and donors, executive director, Frank Alberson explains why the decision was made.“Well, according to what they’ve let us know, the care of the boys that they’ve been providing, the population of boys they’ve been serving has just become too difficult for them according to reimbursement rates they’ve been receiving,” said Sheree Powell with DHS [KFOR].

Quote of the Day

“My thought has always been if you want to try to reform Medicaid, then you really truly have to help people break the cycle of poverty. Instead of throwing people off the program because you can no longer afford them, how about you help them through education, job training and job opportunity so they no longer qualify? That’s the best Medicaid reform.”

-Nico Gomez, president and CEO of Care Providers Oklahoma, speaking about lawmakers’ attempts to reduce eligibility for Medicaid [Source].

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma likely voters who support raising income taxes on wealthy individuals.

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Long-Term Gains: Pre-K Programs Lead to Furthered Education Later in Life: School programs for children as young as three years have long been seen by many as little more than institutional babysitting. But recent research has offered renewed evidence that structured math and literacy practice in addition to regular parental involvement in school programs during the first eight years of life can have a major impact on a child’s future educational achievement. Now, a study that included more than 1,500 children in a Chicago-based program called Child-Parent Centers (CPC) shows kids reached a higher level of education by age 35 than did ones enrolled in other preschool programs: CPC participants completed more years of schooling and were more likely to earn a postsecondary degree [Scientific American].

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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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