In The Know: Fallin, McCall, Schulz tout ‘agreement,’ decline questions

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

Fallin, McCall, Schulz tout ‘agreement,’ decline questions: Gov. Mary Fallin and Republican lawmakers announced “an agreement between House and Senate Republicans” at a press conference this morning but declined to take questions from media, saying she was headed to The Oklahoman’s editorial board to discuss the plan. Fallin, House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz ignored questions from press, including The Oklahoman’s own Capitol reporter who noted that his editorial board surely “would not mind” if they took time to answer questions about the proposal [NonDoc]. Read our statement on the proposal: Latest Republican budget plan ignores obvious solutions [OK Policy]. Lawmakers must use special session to fix the budget, not pass the buck [OK Policy].

“Another waste of time,” Analyst says Republican state budget plan doomed to fail: With no accommodations to Democrats’ suggestions, the state budget plan Oklahoma Republicans unveiled Monday will not have enough support, an analyst says. The plan Governor Mary Fallin announced Monday was only an agreement between Republicans in the House and Senate. There is not enough Republican control at the State Capitol for tax plans to pass without Democrat support. Revenue items need a supermajority of 75% to pass [KOKH]. State lawmakers react to proposed revenue package [NewsOK]. The plan was meant to pressure House Democrats [NewsOK]. Democrats say they weren’t invited to the discussion table [KOCO].

Budget plan raises questions on revenue, cost projections: Oklahoma’s top Republican officials unveiled their long-awaited budget plans Monday morning, but the announcement raised as many questions as it answered. The plan would fill the $215 million budget hole for this year, raise teacher salaries by $3,000 annually, raise public employees’ salaries by $1,000 and restore the earned income tax credit. To do so, the state would increase cigarette taxes by $1.50 per pack, increase motor fuels taxes by 6 cents per gallon and adjust alcohol taxes. Gov. Mary Fallin, House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz announced the plan during a press conference Monday morning [Journal Record].

Oklahoma doctors plan for Medicaid cuts, staff layoffs after budget remains stalled: Dr. Brent Siemens has run the math on what Oklahoma’s proposed Medicaid cuts would do to his four primary care clinics. It’s not pretty. Medicaid pays health care costs for people who can’t afford private insurance. It also covers many children and seniors who might otherwise go without a doctor’s visit. To take those patients, it costs $190,000 to $200,000 a month to run Allied Medical Group clinics in Oklahoma City, Midwest City, Moore and Bethany, Siemens said [NewsOK]. It’s time to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma [OK Policy].

TPS, OKC school boards consider entering legal fight as charter schools sue to get a share of local tax money: The governing boards of the state’s two largest school districts are considering legal intervention in a lawsuit that aims to secure more public tax dollars for charter schools. The Oklahoma City Public Schools board will discuss the matter at a Monday evening meeting, and the Tulsa Public Schools board is set to take up the issue at a special meeting Tuesday afternoon. In July, the Oklahoma Public Charter School Association filed suit against the state Board of Education in Oklahoma County District Court [Tulsa World].

Gross production tax targeted for state funding fix: The ongoing budget crisis at the statehouse now has even industry leaders at odds over possible solutions to prevent devastating cuts and to find funding for state teachers’ pay and other critical needs. Oil and gas production has long been the bread and butter of Oklahoma’s economy. Ardmore and Carter County are no strangers to the boom and bust economy that comes with the highly volatile resource [Daily Ardmoreite]. Oklahoma must end the special tax break for oil and gas producers [OK Policy].

Signs of progress on licensing reform in Oklahoma: We have written many times of the need to reform state occupational licensing laws to ensure regulations don’t unnecessarily reduce market competition by driving up the cost of entering a profession. Progress on this front may be slow, but there are encouraging signs. A state Occupational Licensing Task Force, created by Gov. Mary Fallin and chaired by Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston, has been researching licensing issues for several months. Among other things, the group has released a draft blueprint for evaluating whether government licensing of an occupation is necessary [Editorial Board / NewsOK]. Occupational licensing is a growing barrier to Oklahomans who seek a decent job [OK Policy].

Republicans quietly craft Dreamers deal: Key Senate Republicans have begun privately discussing the contours of an immigration plan to shield the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who will lose work permits and deportation protections starting early next year. Preliminary talks show that influential GOP senators are eager to devise a legislative fix for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that could pass muster with both Democrats and President Donald Trump, who said he will start winding down the Obama-era program in March to force lawmakers to come up with a permanent DACA measure with significant border security and enforcement provisions attached [Politico]. Congress must pass the Dream Act to protect young Oklahomans and our economy [OK Policy].

OKCPS votes to change names of three schools named after Confederate generals: In a 7-0 vote, the Oklahoma City Public Schools School Board voted to rename three schools named after Confederate Leaders. The unanimous decision came at the school board meeting Monday night. Originally it was reported that it would cost $50,000 per school to change the name. At a presentation Monday night, it was stated that it would cost $40,000 total to rename all three schools [KOKH].

Northeast students protest shared space, class sizes: Not all students who attend Northeast Academy for Health Sciences and Engineering are happy about sharing space with Oklahoma City Public Schools administrators while the district’s new home is being renovated. Several took their concerns to Superintendent Aurora Lora on Monday following a lunchtime protest at the school, 3100 N Kelley, that drew about 150 students. Lora, speaking at Monday night’s school board meeting, said she met with student leaders to address their concerns “and clear up some miscommunication and misinformation that has gone out about … how we are sharing the building with Northeast.” [NewsOK]

Beef checkoff opponents file challenge before Oklahoma’s Supreme Court: Oklahoma farmers and ranchers who oppose paying an additional $1 checkoff fee to the Oklahoma Beef Council are taking their beef to Oklahoma’s Supreme Court. On Monday, an attorney representing four plaintiffs who raise cattle in Oklahoma filed a case before the court that challenges the legality of the election, for several reasons. The plaintiffs argue Oklahoma’s Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry didn’t appropriately follow the Oklahoma Administrative Procedures Act when it set up the election [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“So really after four weeks where nothing has been accomplished, this just seems to be another waste of time. What’s surprising is that Republican leadership refuses to propose or accept the one measure that can unlock a budget agreement which is a higher gross production tax on oil and gas companies.”

– OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt, on the budget proposal announced yesterday by Gov. Fallin and House and Senate GOP leadership. The plan would require Democratic support, but Democrats immediately rejected the plan (Source)

Number of the Day


How many fewer corrections staff employed by the state of Oklahoma in 2016 compared to 2009, a nearly 18 percent drop.

Source: U.S. Census via Governing

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

I’m a billionaire. Please raise my taxes: As a billionaire, I would profit substantially from the tax cuts proposed last week by President Trump and the Republican Party. But I am strongly opposed to even one more penny in cuts for rich people and corporations. My reason is simple: Tax cuts for the rich defund the critical public programs on which American families depend. As a billionaire, I would profit substantially from the tax cuts proposed last week by President Trump and the Republican Party. But I am strongly opposed to even one more penny in cuts for rich people and corporations. My reason is simple: Tax cuts for the rich defund the critical public programs on which American families depend [Tom Steyer / Los Angeles Times].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

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