In The Know: GOP budget plan falls short of votes needed to survive

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

GOP budget plan falls short of votes needed to survive: In what appeared to be a rare gesture of bipartisanship this special session, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats teamed up Wednesday to kill a series of taxes on cigarettes, beer and gasoline. Supporters of the plan, which had the backing of Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, were banking on the new taxes to help plug the state’s $215 million shortfall and avoid devastating cuts to mental health, Medicaid and social service programs [CNHI]. Oklahoma educators disappointed over failure of budget deal that included teacher pay raise [Tulsa World]. Video: Tensions flare between Speaker Charles McCall, Rep. Cory Willams at State Capitol [NewsOK]. Lawmakers must use special session to fix the budget, not pass the buck [OK Policy]. 

Oklahoma DHS lists potential program cuts if budget deal isn’t reached soon: An Oklahoma agency is bracing for impact as lawmakers continue to battle over a budget at the Capitol. Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that a $1.50-per-pack ‘cigarette fee’ was unconstitutional after lawmakers passed the revenue raising measure in the final five days of a legislative session without a 75 percent majority vote. The fee was expected to generate $215 million for several state agencies [KFOR]. Without a deal, 10,000 people could be forced into nursing homes [NewsOK]. Care for seniors, people with disabilities at risk as DHS grapples with budget shortfall [OK Policy].

Prosperity Policy: Listen to your constituents: Josh Cockcroft is a fourth-term Republican House member from Tecumseh. Last week he surveyed his constituents on how to resolve the budget crisis that currently threatens health care for hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans with mental illness, addiction, and physical disabilities. Over 1,000 constituents responded, with a majority being self-identified Republicans. Well over half favored three revenue measures: a $1.50 increase in the cigarette tax, an income tax surcharge on high earners, and by more than a three-to-one margin, an increase in the gross production tax [David Blatt / Journal Record]. New poll finds Oklahoma voters want comprehensive revenue deal in special session [OK Policy].

OSDH To Eliminate 250 Positions: The Oklahoma State Department Of Health will eliminate approximately 250 positions due to lack of funding. This, is in addition to furloughs that will begin next week. OSDH originally planned to prepare a Voluntary Out Benefit Offer to reduce staffing levels statewide. But due to additional budget needs, OSDH decided on following through with a Reduction in Force (RIF), eliminating about 12-percent of its workforce [News9].

House Minority Leader Scott Inman announces he is dropping out of governor’s race, resigning from House: House Minority Leader Scott Inman on Wednesday abruptly announced he was dropping out of the gubernatorial race and cutting his legislative term short. The responsibilities of leading the Democratic caucus and running for governor came with a price, Inman said in a statement. “Unfortunately, that price was paid by those nearest and dearest to me,” he said [Tulsa World].

Lankford and Inhofe vote to prevent class-action lawsuits against lenders: Oklahoma’s two U.S. senators voted Tuesday night to preemptively block a banking regulation that would have allowed class-action lawsuits against banks and credit unions. The Senate voted 51-50 on the measure, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie. Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe of Tulsa and James Lankford of Oklahoma City voted in favor [NewsOK].

As Trump Proposes Tax Cuts, Kansas Deals With Aftermath Of Experiment: Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is notorious for what is known as the Kansas experiment, a bold effort to assert the power of limited government. In 2012, the Republican governor pushed reforms through the state Legislature that dramatically cut income taxes across the board. Brownback boasted the plan would deliver a “shot of adrenaline” to the Kansas economy. But the opposite happened [NPR]. The Kansas tax cut experiment has a close cousin in Oklahoma [OK Policy].

Enrollment News To Bank On: Obamacare Is Still Here So It’s Time For Coverage Checkup: The open enrollment period begins in one week for 2018 marketplace coverage, but many consumers are confused about what to expect. No wonder! The Trump administration has slashed advertising and outreach about open enrollment, so concrete consumer information is sparse. But there’s more than enough political rhetoric to make up for it, with regular partisan pronouncements that the marketplaces have collapsed and Obamacare is dead [Kaiser Health News].

Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City holds rally in support of undocumented students: Students and faculty pledged their support for undocumented students and for a law to replace the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program at a rally Wednesday at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City. “This is a personal issue for me,” OSU-OKC President Natalie Shirley said. “It impacts our students, families and alumni.” [NewsOK] Congress must pass the Dream Act to protect young Oklahomans and our economy [OK Policy].

State prison board to consider legislative agenda closing some public meeting discussion, records: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is seeking to change the state’s Open Meeting Act to permit its governing board to go behind closed doors to discuss serious incidents involving staff and inmates, contract negotiations, plans to change existing facilities and facility security issues. The Department is also seeking to add exemptions to state law that would make confidential some prisoner records, as well as a wide swath of information regarding Oklahoma Correctional Industries, an arm of DOC that employs prisoners in manufacturing and producing goods [The Frontier].

Tourism Department admits to illegal financial actions: The Oklahoma Department of Tourism admitted to violations of state law in how it handled taxpayer money. The director of the agency read a prepared statement to commissioners Wednesday morning at a regularly scheduled meeting. Commissioners accepted the report presented by agency head Dick Dutton [FOX25].

Oklahoma Corporation Commission computer system hacked: Most computer services at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission remained offline Wednesday following a hacking attack early Monday, state officials said. “We detected an attack and have engaged State CyberCommand and OMES (Office of Management and Enterprise Services) staff to protect and restart the systems,” OMES spokeswoman Shelley Zumwalt said. “No sensitive data was compromised, either from the Corporation Commission or citizens.” [NewsOK]

Sheriff: Jail counts are down: The inmate population at the Cleveland County jail is on the decline. “Over the last month or two the jail has been running between 360 and 390 inmates a day,” Interim Sheriff Todd Gibson said. “That’s a fluctuating number.” That average is well below numbers the F. DeWayne Beggs Correctional Center was housing earlier this year when numbers ran more than 500 inmates, peaking at 572 one Saturday morning this summer [Norman Transcript].

Judge grants Betty Shelby’s request for manslaughter case records to be expunged: Former Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby is able to legally say she was never arrested or prosecuted for the shooting death of Terence Crutcher last year after a judge granted her request to expunge the record of her manslaughter case. Neither Shelby, 43, nor her legal team were at the Tulsa County Courthouse on Wednesday morning for a hearing set by District Judge William LaFortune related to her August petition that sought the sealing of associated documents because all parties involved agreed to an expungement [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“It is so much more than this plan. We can do better. So let’s do better because the entire state is watching.”

– State Rep. Forrest Bennett (D-Oklahoma City), who said that he did not vote for Wednesday’s failed revenue measure because he’d learned about what Oklahomans need from the Legislature during Tuesday’s rally (Source

Number of the Day


Turnover rate for Oklahoma state employees in FY 2016, a 40 percent increase from turnover rates in the previous decade.

Source: Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Is Health Care a Right? Is health care a right? The United States remains the only developed country in the world unable to come to agreement on an answer. Earlier this year, I was visiting Athens, Ohio, the town in the Appalachian foothills where I grew up. The battle over whether to repeal, replace, or repair the Affordable Care Act raged then, as it continues to rage now. So I began asking people whether they thought that health care was a right. The responses were always interesting. A friend had put me in touch with a forty-seven-year-old woman I’ll call Maria Dutton. She lived with her husband, Joe, down a long gravel driveway that snaked into the woods off a rural road [The New Yorker].

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.