In The Know: Corporation Commission rejects $1.1 billion rate hike proposal by OG&E

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.

Today In The News

Oklahoma Corporation Commission rejects $1.1 billion rate hike proposal by OG&E: The Oklahoma Corporation Commission denied Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co.’s $1.14 billion request to preapprove costs for air pollution compliance. The utility did not present enough evidence for the proposal, which could have raised monthly utility rates by up to 19 percent within five years. OG&E’s request was controversial because it included an unrelated $414 million project to update its Mustang Power Plant in western Oklahoma City [Journal Record].

Demonstrators voice opposition to OG&E solar energy charges: About 30 demonstrators gathered outside the Oklahoma Corporation Commission on Tuesday. Holding yellow umbrellas and chanting “Don’t Block The Sun,” the protesters spoke out against a proposal by Oklahoma Gas and Electric to include a demand charge on the bills of rooftop solar customers [KGOU].

Energy industry decline could cost state earners billions: Robert Dauffenbach, senior associate dean for economic development at OU’s Price College of Business, told the Oklahoma City Economic Roundtable that there has been a lot of volatility in energy earnings, which show up on government reports as mining sector figures. “What it says is we have yet to begin a significant drop in mining sector earnings in the state,” Dauffenbach said. “What the history tells us, particularly the history of the Great Recession, is that we could expect on the order of a $10 billion drop in earnings in the direct mining sector in the state” [Journal Record]. Dauffenbach said falling oil and natural gas prices, lower tax rates and a growing percentage of sales from tax-free Internet retailers have erased about $2 billion from Oklahoma’s tax collections over the past year [NewsOK].

Price tag for Capitol repairs gets a lot bigger: Full repair and refurbishment of the crumbling state Capitol, from new plumbing to a new park, would cost about $310 million, well over twice the amount of money set aside for the project, according to plans obtained by The Oklahoman. Contractors working on the 98-year-old building have drawn up a proposal showing what can and cannot be done with the $120 million now available [NewsOK].

Cherokees donate $4 million for renovation of historic NSU liberal arts building: The donation will be spread out over the course of four years and is earmarked for the renovation and restoration of Seminary Hall, which currently houses classrooms, faculty and administration affiliated with the university’s College of Liberal Arts. Prior to statehood, the 126-year-old building was the second site of the Cherokee Female Seminary, the oldest institution of higher learning for women west of the Mississippi River [Tulsa World].

Facing ‘crisis position,’ forum targets justice system reform: Policies conspire to trap the poor, the mentally ill and the addicted behind bars with the violent, panelists told Oklahoma City business leaders Wednesday at a forum on criminal justice system reform. Organized by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the city’s leading business organization, the event marked the start of an effort to marshal support for solutions to longstanding shortcomings that have resulted in federal scrutiny of the overcrowded Oklahoma County jail [NewsOK].

Joy Hofmeister, Deborah Gist talk statewide teacher shortage at Tulsa luncheon: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and Tulsa Superintendent Deborah Gist said Wednesday that bold action is needed to get Oklahoma public schools out of dire straits caused by the statewide teacher shortage. Hofmeister showed the breakdown of 2,021 individuals who have obtained emergency teaching certificates from the state since 2008, despite not having completed requirements for traditional or alternative certificates [Tulsa World].

Don’t touch Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust: In the late 1990s, Oklahoma was one of 46 states that settled a historic lawsuit with the nation’s major tobacco companies that assured states an annual financial payment in perpetuity. In 2000, with passage of State Question 692, Oklahoma became the first and only state to direct its tobacco settlement payments into a constitutionally protected trust fund. Seventy-five percent of Oklahoma’s annual payment is now deposited in the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, which has grown to $1 billion. Not surprisingly, the trust has become an inviting target for some elected officials desperately seeking revenue to meet the state’s many neglected obligations [David Blatt / Journal Record].

Stillwater tragedy highlights health insurance issues: The day before Thanksgiving, Stillwater Medical Center announced via press release that it will not bill patients who received care as a result of the Oct. 24 OSU homecoming tragedy. But, like many things in health care, unpacking the financial practices of hospitals and health insurers can prove incredibly complicated. According to Stillwater Medical Center Chief Financial Officer Alan Lovelace, the convoluted nature of seeking reimbursement from health insurers was a driving factor in the hospital board’s decision not to bill patients directly [NonDoc].

Quote of the Day

“Common sense dictates that until the state proves it can live within its means, it really should stop reducing them, yet some ‘thinkers’ continue to advocate eliminating the state income tax – even arguing that the state’s largest funding source can be vanished without a replacement and still fund needed teacher pay raises. This contention would be laughable if not so devastatingly irresponsible – considering current funding status of core services. But rather than rebuke this nonsense, many in positions of responsibility actually enable it through their silence or rhetoric”

-State Treasurer Ken Miller (Source)

Number of the Day


Estimated number of Oklahoma veteran and military households who received the Earned Income Tax Credit or low-income component of the Child Tax Credit in 2014.

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Myth of Welfare’s Corrupting Influence on the Poor: Few ideas are so deeply ingrained in the American popular imagination as the belief that government aid for poor people will just encourage bad behavior. And yet, to a significant degree, it is wrong. Actual experience, from the richest country in the world to some of the poorest places on the planet, suggests that cash assistance can be of enormous help for the poor. And freeing them from what President Ronald Reagan memorably termed the “spider’s web of dependency” — also known as forcing the poor to swim or sink — is not the cure-all for social ills its supporters claim [New York Times].

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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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