In The Know: Early vote expected on Step Up Oklahoma revenue measures

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

Early vote expected on Step Up Oklahoma revenue measures: Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall said Thursday he’s optimistic he can get enough Republican votes to pass Step Up Oklahoma’s plan to resolve the state’s budget impasse if as many Democrats will vote for the plan as voted for a revenue bill that failed last year. [The Oklahoman] Step Up Oklahoma plan adds to the consensus that new revenues are essential [OK Policy]

Budget remains biggest challenge for Oklahoma lawmakers: When members of the Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives return Monday to the state Capitol to begin this year’s regular legislative session, there’s little debate about which issue will confound them the most. [The Oklahoman] Oklahoma’s budget outlook is improving, but major challenges remain [OK Policy]

Fallin hopes to put state on firm financial footing for her successor: In her final State of the State speech on Monday, Gov. Mary Fallin will stress the urgency of the moment, the need to resolve chronic budget problems without digging around in couch cushions for coins. [The Oklahoman] Mary Fallin doesn’t plan to limp away from the governor’s office [Tulsa World]

Plaintiffs suing every Oklahoma sheriff file injunction to avoid arrests on old court debts: Attorneys challenging the state’s court fine and cost collection system are asking a federal judge to order Tulsa and Rogers counties to temporarily cease enforcement of failure-to-pay arrest warrants issued for two indigent individuals named as plaintiffs in the case. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma’s debtors’ prisons aren’t just a nuisance – they’re an epidemic [OK Policy]

Oklahoma’s state employment relies on a largely low-wage workforce: A quarter of the state’s 32,000 employees make less than $30,000 a year, according to The Oklahoman’s review of state salaries. Some state employees qualify for the same government assistance they are employed to distribute. Others told The Oklahoman they have witnessed bouts of depression in their coworkers and a difficulty in making ends meet at home. [The Oklahoman]

In Oklahoma, school nurses are not found in every school: While the state’s largest school district has maintained its nursing positions, other school districts haven’t been so lucky, explained Elizabeth Vaughan, a registered nurse and president of the School Nurse Organization of Oklahoma. [OK Gazette] Another year goes by, and Oklahoma still leads the nation for cuts to education [OK Policy]

The state of the state is bad: We won’t sugar coat things. The state of our state is bad. The members of the Oklahoma Legislature were sent to Oklahoma City to solve problems, and we’ve got plenty. Get to work. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]

20 interesting facts about Oklahomans’ health: The 2017 report on Oklahoma’s health rankings was recently released by the United Health Foundation, and it shows some interesting information on the state of Oklahoma’s healthiness. [The Oklahoman]

No excuse for Oklahoma lawmakers to “walk” votes: This year’s legislative session will include votes on numerous tax increases and assorted government reforms, including those advanced by the Step Up Oklahoma coalition. Whether one supports or opposes those specific proposals, all citizens deserve to know where their elected lawmakers stand. [Editorial Board/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Senate leader quietly guides senators toward compromise: In a cotton field just outside this southwest Oklahoma town, one of the most powerful political figures in the state leaned over a ditch to demonstrate how he irrigates with metal tubes. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma is at a crossroads, and it’s time for the people to speak up: The Oklahoma Legislature returns to the state Capitol on Monday. After a four-month regular session and two dithering special sessions, one of which continues to this day, lawmakers are yet to produce a balanced budget for the year, much less deal with the chronic problems facing Oklahoma. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]

State of the State: The Goals Fallin Set in 7 Years of Speeches, and What Happened: During her seven years in office, Fallin has touted a number of initiatives and goals. She has attained some, fallen short on others and largely reversed her thinking on at least one. [Oklahoma Watch

Solutions, not games, needed from Oklahoma session: When the regular session of the Legislature convenes Monday, the focus will be squarely on a concurrent special session and the fate of a revenue and reform plan put forward by Oklahoma business and civic leaders. [Editorial Board/The Oklahoman]

Obvious concerns with Step Up Oklahoma: Step Up Oklahoma, a self-titled grassroots, bipartisan effort to fix Oklahoma’s systemic budget issues, has gained a lot of steam and some high profile supporters, including Clay Bennett and Brad Henry. The plan is a compelling one: it calls for a $5,000 teacher pay raise and significant changes to our state government and tax system. But there are some nagging questions that have yet to be answered. [Editorial Board/Norman Transcript]  Questions Step Up Oklahoma’s media partners should ask [NonDoc] ‘Step Up’ revenues are only the first step needed to fix Oklahoma’s budget problems [OK Policy

New Study Says Depth of Wastewater Injection Wells is Critical to Causing Oklahoma’s Earthquakes: The journal Science reported this week that a “major” study by the University of Bristol and involving the University of Southampton, Delft University of Technology and Resources for the future came up with the determination. The scientists say their study shows “conclusively that Oklahoma’s seismicity is strongly linked to fluid injection depth.” [OK Energy Today]

Quote of the Day

“My salary is decreasing every year because of the frozen benefit allowance and the rising cost of our insurance. I went from $1,520 to $1,480 in net (pay) last month. I have coworkers who need state assistance.”

– Sheri Herren, a social service specialist for the Department of Human Services in Ponca City, whose pay is shrinking as her workload increases (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of all people charged with a felony in Tulsa County in 2008 who have since had an arrest warrant placed on them for failing to pay fines and fees.

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How I Stopped Being Ashamed Of My EBT Card: The first time I used food stamps, I cried. It was a predawn Saturday morning and I had purposely gone to the grocery store early to avoid pulling out the EBT card in the sight lines of people I worried would judge me. I felt like an imposter among self-paying customers. For almost an hour, I walked the aisles, half-shopping, half-stalling because I was terrified the brand new card would be declined or malfunction and I’d be left, stupefied and optionless, with a cartful of groceries I couldn’t otherwise afford. [BuzzFeed]

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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