In The Know: State budget passes House, heads to Senate

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.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a $7.14 billion general appropriations bill late Wednesday night after rural Republicans and Democrats blocked its passage for over an hour. The bill now heads to the Senate. The Tulsa World wrote that the the bill is “full of ironies and outrages,” and chastised the Legislature for not taking a more sensible approach to building the budget. Oklahoma Watch wrote that agencies facing cuts will be able to tap into their revolving funds to help cushion the blow. At the State Capitol yesterday, members of the OK Policy team liveblogged discussion and debate about the budget. The budget deal only manages to cover vital services by using millions in one-time revenues that will create another budget hole next year.

Gov. Fallin has signed a bill ending a pair of tax exemptions for new wind farms constructed after 2016. Writing in the Journal Record, Executive Director David Blatt said that the wind power exemption was targeted not because of its actual cost, but because it was an easy target. The Legislature overrode Gov. Fallin’s veto on a bill that will change the way salaries are set for state officers. The Senate education committee approved a bill that would modify the third grade retention law. A new national ranking of states for senior health shows that Oklahoma has improved slightly, but remains among the five worst states in the US.

Two years after a devastating tornado, Moore’s housing boom has slowed. The Tulsa County District Attorney has asked to be recused from an investigation into the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office to avoid any perception that his defense of the office in the past would  affect the investigation. Southwest Oklahoma cities that have struggled with drought for years are reconsidering water rationing following massive rainfall. The Number of the Day is $1,004 – the median annual property taxes paid by Oklahomans in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, The Atlantic explains how segregation continues to impact childhood outcomes.

In The News

General appropriations bill almost derails in Oklahoma House

The state’s $7.14 billion general appropriation bill nearly went off the tracks late Wednesday after rural Republicans joined with Democrats to block passage for more than an hour. GOP leadership herded its wayward flock into the House lounge after the vote on House Bill 2242 became stuck at 47-47, four votes short of the 51 needed for passage in the House.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

State budget deal full of ironies and outrages

With a $611 million funding gap to cover, it was inevitable that next year’s state budget would come with ironies and outrages. It does. After days of closed-door negotiations, the state’s top leaders have unveiled their spending plan for the next fiscal year.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Budget Deal Includes a Cushion for Agencies Facing Cuts

The effects of budget cuts will be softened a bit for many state agencies: For the second year in a row, they will be able to tap their own revolving funds for spending on operations. The budget agreement negotiated by Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Mary Fallin’s office calls for spending about $7.2 billion next fiscal year, with most agencies facing cuts to help address a $611.3 million shortfall.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

FY 2016 Budget Live Blog

Today we’re at the State Capitol looking into the state budget deal announced yesterday. See below for live updates as we uncover more about the budget and analyze what it means for Oklahomans.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

See also: Lawmakers should reject unbalanced budget deal from OK Policy.

Fallin Signs Bills Ending Wind Energy Tax Incentives

Today, Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation ending a pair of tax incentives used by wind energy developers. The bills will end the use of an exemption that has ballooned alongside the state’s booming wind industry.

Read more from KGOU.

Easy targets

One day when I was in junior high, some friends and I came across a schoolyard fight between two of our classmates. A number of children were taunting one of the combatants, Bobby, and I must confess that I joined in the name-calling. After losing the scrap, an incensed Bobby looked around at those who’d been mocking him from the sidelines.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Oklahoma Legislature overrides Gov. Mary Fallin on salaries bill for state officials

The Oklahoma House of Representatives joined the state Senate Wednesday in overriding Gov. Mary Fallin’s veto of a bill that will change the way salaries are set for state officers. The House override vote was 80-11. Before the override, salaries of state officers — including the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general — have been linked to the salaries paid to judges.

Read more from NewsOK.

Senate Education Committee passes bill to modify law on third-grade reading level

A legislative panel on Wednesday passed a bill to modify a law on the retention of third-graders based on reading scores. Senate Bill 630, by Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, would make changes to the original legislation regarding third-graders who don’t read at grade level.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

See also: Uncertain future for third grade reading reforms from the OK Policy Blog.

Oklahoma continues poor performance in senior health

Oklahoma improved slightly in this year’s senior health rankings but continues to be among the five worst states, according to the United Health Foundation. The state moved from 47th to 46th among states for senior health but is plagued by physical inactivity among its older population and a high percentage of low-care residents in nursing homes.

See more from the Tulsa World.

Two Years After A Devastating Tornado, Moore’s Housing Market Plateaus

It’s been two years since a deadly EF-5 tornado swept through Moore, Oklahoma, taking the lives of 24 people, including seven children, and destroying nearly 1,100 homes. In the months following the storm, there was a housing boom, but that surge has since plateaued.

Read more from KGOU.

District attorney requests appointment of another prosecutor for Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office investigation

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler has asked to be recused from the investigation into the Sheriff’s Office, he announced Wednesday. Kunzweiler said the request was made “in order to protect the integrity of the investigative process.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Southwest Oklahoma Cities Wrestle With How To Ration Water Amid Plenty

This May already ranks as one of the wettest in state history, and continues to snuff out the four-year drought that dried up cities in southwest Oklahoma. Water rationing helped keep Duncan, Lawton, and Altus afloat, but those cities are now scaling back their water saving mandates.

Read more from StateImpact.

Quote of the Day

“We wish the state budget deal had turned out otherwise. It could have, but poor choices, this year and in the past, left the state with a $611 million chasm, and a promise that next year the hole will be even deeper.”

– The Tulsa World’s Editorial Board, arguing that the budget deal failed to use sensible solutions, including canceling the income tax cut, to build a responsible budget (Source)

Number of the Day


Median annual property taxes paid by Oklahomans in 2013.

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Curse of Segregation

Baltimore did not need more negative publicity this week. But in a bit of fateful timing, the Equality of Opportunity Project of Harvard University has released two papers concluding that the income mobility for poor children in Baltimore City is worse than in any large county in America. Every year spent in Baltimore “reduces a child’s earnings by 0.7 percent per year, generating a total earnings penalty of approximately 14 percent for children who grow up there from birth,” Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren write. Geography is not quite destiny. But neighborhoods can dramatically shape the economic prospects of those who grow up there.

Read more from The Atlantic.

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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