In The Know: Senate votes to wipe out tax break for the wealthy, potentially saving $120 million a year

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

Senate Votes to Wipe out Tax Break for the Wealthy, Potentially Saving $120 Million a Year: The Oklahoma Senate on Thursday sent the House a bill that is aimed at wiping out a tax credit that benefited mainly the wealthy. Senate Bill 1086, by Sen. Dave Rader, R-Tulsa, passed by a vote of 30-9. It heads to the House for consideration. The measure would eliminate the capital gains tax credit, Rader said. It has cost Oklahoma about $450 million but only generated $9 million in benefit to the state [Tulsa World]. Oklahoma’s capital gain deduction allows income from the sale of Oklahoma real estate investments or stock in an Oklahoma-based firm to go fully untaxed [OK Policy].

House Republicans Unveil Six-Year Plan to Raise Teacher Pay; OEA Dismisses It as ‘Political Stunt’: House Speaker Charles McCall and his caucus rolled out a new plan on Thursday to increase teacher pay but with no specifics on how to pay for it. The plan was immediately dismissed as a “political stunt” by the Oklahoma Education Association, which has threatened a teacher walkout over pay. The plan calls for increasing teacher pay in varying incremental steps over six years, although lawmakers could accelerate or decelerate the plan as needed [Tulsa World]. Tulsa leaders gathered to support teachers, encourage Legislature to act on funding education [Tulsa World]. Senate leaders vow another vote on revenue package to support teacher raises [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Has Many Good Options to Resolve the Teacher Walkout: The Oklahoma Education Association last week called on the Legislature to support an ambitious proposal to increase funding for public education and state services. The association, which represents nearly 40,000 teachers and school employees across the state, warned that “If the Legislature cannot fund education and core state services by the legal deadline of April 1, we are prepared to close schools and stay at the Capitol until it gets done.” The Oklahoma Public Employees Association, which is the largest group representing state employees, has announced that their members would join the teachers’ walkout on April 2nd unless lawmakers pass a significant state employee pay raise [OKPolicy]. How would you resolve the teacher walkout? [Together Oklahoma]

House Willing to Ask Voters to Change State Question 640: Fetgatter’s legislation would ask voters if it should be easier for lawmakers to raise taxes. His resolution, if it passes the Senate, would become a statewide ballot question to amend the Constitution and reduce the threshold set by State Question 640 more than two decades ago [NewsOK]. Former Governor talks supermajority that’s preventing teacher raises [News9]. SQ 640 has made Oklahoma ungovernable [OK Policy].

Bill Creates Cannabis Commission If Oklahoma Legalizes Medical Weed: Creation of a Cannabis Commission to regulate medical marijuana in the state was approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Thursday night with no votes to spare. House Bill 3468, by Rep. John Jordan, R-Yukon, sets up an independent commission that would be activated if voters approve State Question 788 on June 26. That question would legalize medical uses of medical marijuana, although opponents say its broad construction would essentially make policing recreational use impossible [NewsOK]. See our SQ 788 fact sheet [OK Policy].

Oklahoma Death Row Inmate on New Nitrogen Gas Execution: ‘Better Than Having Some Idiot Trying to Find a Vein’: Oklahoma is set to become the first state to execute inmates using nitrogen gas, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter announced Wednesday, and one inmate on the state’s death row said he would welcome the method over lethal injection, a process the state has consistently bungled since 2014 [Daily Beast]. Critics decry execution by hypoxia plan [Journal Record].

The Grisly Murder Case That Could Turn Half of Oklahoma Back Into Tribal Lands: In a legal quirk for the ages, a 1990s capital murder case involving two Native Americans could restore tribal sovereignty to almost half of Oklahoma for the first time in a century—unless the Supreme Court intervenes, that is. The federal government asked the justices last Friday to review and reverse the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Royal v. Murphy, an unusual case in which Patrick Murphy, a death-row inmate and member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, claimed Oklahoma lacked the jurisdiction to try him for the murder of another tribal member on what was part of the Creek Nation’s reservation [The New Republic].

‘Punishing Poverty’: Attorneys Say Municipal Court Change Will Push Low-Level Offenders into City Jail: The same day the city of Tulsa opened its municipal jail, a rule change that could help fill its cells quietly went into effect. On Feb. 28, three municipal judges signed an administrative order that changed municipal court procedures. Under the change, defendants who fail to appear for a court date, pay ticket fines or complete work hours have 60 days to clear their warrants by adding themselves onto a docket to see a judge. After that, defendants now must surrender to the city jail or risk being arrested on warrants [The Frontier]. Excessive fees lock Oklahomans into the criminal justice system without boosting state revenue [OK Policy].

State Now Ranks First in Benefits for Veterans: Oklahoma has surpassed Nebraska to become the No. 1 state in the nation for VA claims benefits, according to Doug Ferguson, a veterans service representative (VSR) in the Lawton Claims Office. The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) represents 29,695 veterans who are currently receiving compensation or pension benefits. In 2017, $482,697,946 in VA payments were made to Oklahoma veterans and their families [Lawton Constitution].

Ben Fu Is an Ideas Man. Are Tulsa County Voters Ready for That?: Ben Fu has a lot of ideas. A former assistant district attorney under both Tim Harris and Steve Kunzweiler, the Bartlesville-born son of Chinese immigrants thinks the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office isn’t forward-thinking enough. And he thinks he’s the man to change that. “I’m excited about the idea of identifying our problems, and deciding on new ways to measure our success,” Fu said during a recent interview with The Frontier at his law office near 21st Street and Lewis Avenue [The Frontier].

OKCPS Seeking the Public’s Help for Next Superintendent Selection: The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board is asking Oklahomans to get involved as it continues its search for the next OKCPS superintendent. Former Superintendent Aurora Lora submitted her resignation nearly two months ago, Jan. 30, just a week after posting statements to Facebook about the challenges of having multiple bosses. The Board is giving the community an opportunity to participate in an online survey to specify the qualities they would like to see in the next superintendent [News9].

Quote of the Day

“There was no notice to anybody. Now they have their own jail and they need to fill it. I feel like they’re basically punishing poverty.”

–  Tulsa Defense Attorney Stefanie Sinclair, speaking on a new procedure that she says will push low-level offenders and people who can’t afford to pay fines into Tulsa’s new jail [Source].

Number of the Day


Percent of eligible voters in Oklahoma who voted in the November 2016 election.

Source: Census Bureau

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

New Trump rules will drive people with disabilities off Medicaid and out of work: Many of these people have a mental illness, intellectual disability or physical limitation — like an injury that makes it hard for a person to stay on their feet — that impedes their ability to work for the required amount of hours per month. But they don’t meet the stringent criteria for federal disability assistance and others are unable to complete the often lengthy and complex application process for such assistance. People with these kinds of conditions qualify for Medicaid based on their incomes, mostly thanks to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, through which states can extend coverage to more low-income adults. For these nearly 5 million people with disabilities, a work requirement could mean less coverage, worse health and, ironically, fewer chances to find or keep a job [USA Today].

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

One thought on “In The Know: Senate votes to wipe out tax break for the wealthy, potentially saving $120 million a year

  1. Oklahoma didn’t expand Medicaid but they need to. Glad they are ending high earner tax breaks and the capital gains tax. Are they raising the GPT to 7% from beginning to end also?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.