In The Know: Is there an end in sight for the legislative special session?

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

Is there an end in sight for the legislative special session? Here is what has lawmakers frustrated: Two Tulsa-area Republicans say they are frustrated that the Legislature’s stalled special session isn’t moving ahead, and they say they are ready to vote for controversial changes to the state’s gross production tax if given the chance. Democratic House leaders say they think there are enough supporters — Republicans and Democrats — to get that idea across the finish line if House Speaker Charles McCall would put it to a vote. [Tulsa World] Secret votes and unwillingness to lead are prolonging Oklahoma’s budget stalemate [OK Policy] Lawmakers must use special session to fix the budget, not pass the buck [OK Policy]

Midwest City Police Chief: ‘We will be killing Oklahomans on a daily basis,’ one result of mental health and substance abuse treatment cuts: Violent crime will spike, and jails across Oklahoma will be overwhelmed in the aftermath of impending budget cuts to the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, law enforcement officials warned Wednesday. [The Oklahoman] An example of what abdication of duty produces [Editorial Board/The Oklahoman]

Outpatient services to be slashed amid budget shortfall: Officials announced Wednesday that they must gut mental health and substance abuse programs that serve hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans. Standing beneath a sign reading “Crisis Center,” Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Terri White said there’s no option left but to cut state funding for all outpatient services in order to fill her agency’s $75 million shortfall. [CNHI] OK House Speaker Tells State Agencies To Hold Off On Cuts [News9] Members will be called back to vote on short-term appropriations plan [Fox25]

What if Oklahoma hired a budget deal mediator?: After months of intractable debate over state finances, many Oklahomans, lawmakers and advocacy groups are growing weary and pessimistic about the chance that a deal can be reached before agencies must make staggering cuts to health care programs. But what if the state hired a professional mediator, someone trained in the art of finding compromise? [The Oklahoman]

DHS cuts jeopardizing settlement involving child welfare system: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services faces up to $69 million in budget cuts this fiscal year, and the state’s ongoing budget crisis could jeopardize the Pinnacle Plan, a legal settlement aimed at reforming the state’s child welfare system. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma’s long journey to fix the child welfare system grows longer [OK Policy]

Governor — and the state Constitution — turn up the heat on the state budget failure: The lack of real progress on the state’s mounting budget crisis led to a fascinating battle of news releases between two Republican leaders last week. On Friday, House Appropriations and Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace chided Gov. Fallin and her Office of Management and Enterprise Services for telling three state agencies that their allocations will be cut starting next month because the state budget is out of balance. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]

‘Zombie’ event staged at Oklahoma Capitol to support taxes: Anti-tax “zombies” in Oklahoma were stopped outside the entrance to the state Capitol on Saturday in a staged event by groups supporting tax increases to prevent cuts to health, education and other services. [AP] Oklahoma taxes are the lowest in our region, and falling [OK Policy]

Communications grow chippy between governor, oil and gas industry: Behind-the-scenes communications between the governor’s office and Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry have grown chippy in recent weeks over budget discussions that have included talk of raising the gross production tax to 5 percent. [The Oklahoman] Fallin’s chief of staff to oil and gas leaders: ‘Participate in a way that can help’ [NonDoc] How much new revenue will ending oil and gas tax breaks bring in? [OK Policy]

The truth about that $17.9 billion the state is spending: PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checking partner of the Tulsa World, recently judged a statement by two writers from the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs as “mostly false.” That judgment seems unfair to me on the basis that PolitiFact made it, although I would judge the OCPA writers’ conclusions to be ridiculous and misleading for different reasons. [Wayne Greene/Tulsa World]

In Oklahoma, where one in eight adults turns to payday loans, are alternative financial services the best deal for Oklahomans?: Tina Pollard hears all sorts of stories of desperate moments that led Oklahomans to alternative financial services, a broad term that includes payday loans, “signature” loans, pawnshops, auto title loans and rent-to-own products. Marketed as being helpful for financial emergencies, the quick cash granted to credit- and cash-strapped borrowers too often leaves Oklahomans with ruined credit, unmanageable debt and internal anguish over what all began with a car accident, illness or another unexpected expense. [OK Gazette] New protections for payday loan borrowers are coming (if Congress will stay out of the way) [OK Policy]

‘We are going to have to stop a lot of legislation’ Oklahoma sheriffs group says of 2018 session: The state’s sheriffs are gearing up for a fight when the Oklahoma Legislature reconvenes early next year. During a meeting of the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association on Thursday, members were told to expect a protracted battle over criminal justice reforms they largely oppose. [The Oklahoman] Justice Reform Task Force recommendations could be the solution Oklahoma desperately needs [OK Policy]

With term limits, the revolving door spins faster: One of the many unintended consequences of term limits is that the Legislature has become a steppingstone for professional development and personal enrichment.
That is why so many lawmakers are squealing over a state Ethics Commission proposal that would make them wait two years before they can lobby their former colleagues. [Arnold Hamilton/Journal Record]

Higher income limit will open Oklahoma’s Promise tuition scholarship to more families: Oklahoma’s Promise is expected to pay college tuition for nearly 18,000 students in 2018-19 at an estimated cost of $76.8 million. That’s up about $2.5 million from the current fiscal year. The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approved the cost estimate Thursday and thanked state Rep. Leslie Osborn for her help raising the family income limit so more students can qualify for the scholarship. [The Oklahoman] Bill to expand eligibility for Oklahoma’s Promise scholarships a win for all Oklahomans [OK Policy]

Real ID extension means Oklahomans can use driver’s licenses at airports through October 2018: Oklahoma has received an extension for implementing Real ID compliant identification. “This is great news for Oklahomans, and means there will be no restrictions on individuals using Oklahoma licenses to fly or access federal buildings through October 10 of next year,” Gov. Mary Fallin said in a news release Thursday. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“We plead with our legislators to stop aligning your party affiliation and find a solution to the budget deficit. Compromise on both sides is a must. If we don’t act immediately, we will be killing Oklahomans on a daily basis because we are not providing them the necessary mental health treatment.”

– Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes, speaking on behalf of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police at a press conference with the Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. OKDMHSAS announced that it will severely cut outpatient services if lawmakers are not able to strike a budget deal (Source)

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s rank for the rate of women killed by men in 2015, the first time the state has been outside the top ten since 2010.

Source: Violence Policy Center via Tulsa World

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Think Automatic Voter Registration Just Benefits Democrats? Not Necessarily: Over the past two years, nine states and the District of Columbia have quietly implemented a significant overhaul of the voter registration process, aiming to reduce bureaucracy and increase the number of people signed up to vote. Automatic voter registration, or AVR for short, essentially turns the current opt-in system of voter registration to an opt-out system. “When eligible citizens interact with certain government offices, they are added to the voter rolls unless they say no,” according to an article by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which is working to advance the idea [Governing].

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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.

One thought on “In The Know: Is there an end in sight for the legislative special session?

  1. Sheriffs scoffed for the last 20 years that money being transferred from mental health and education to prisons and community supervision would impact the state budget in ways that could come back to haunt them directly. Now at least one sees the chickens if not the eggs. The response of the sheriffs?

    More prison of the same.

    Wonder how close to the top of the site list Tulsa or OKC are for the second Amazon site . . . .

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