In The Know: Gov. Fallin’s budget proposal includes $288 million for teacher raises

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

Gov. Fallin’s budget proposal includes $288 million for teacher raises: Gov. Mary Fallin played the opening gambit in the annual chess match called the Oklahoma legislative session on Monday. She pushed out some big pieces — a $700-million revenue package, $288.5 million for teacher raises and the promise of making it through a budget year without digging through sofa cushions for nickels and dimes [Tulsa World]. Oklahoma needs a plan to increase teacher pay that is backed by identified recurring revenue [OK Policy].

Wind Group Pushes Back Against Proposed Gross Production Tax for Renewable Energy: A wind power organization said Tuesday they support a fair tax structure, but the Step Up Oklahoma plan doesn’t offer that. Members of OK WindPower said the proposed $1 per megawatt hour gross production tax on renewable energy would be levied in addition to property taxes wind farms pay but oil and gas firms don’t. Former Garfield County Assessor Wade Patterson said assets can’t be double taxed in Oklahoma, creating a problem for more than 50 schools where a wind energy business is the No. 1 taxpayer into county sinking funds [Public Radio Tulsa]. Oklahoma’s wind subsidies are dwarfed by subsidies to the oil and gas industry [OK Policy].

Oklahoma slips in new economic rankings: Recent good news about gains the national economy – lower unemployment, small declines in the poverty rate, and a booming stock market – is not reflected here in Oklahoma. The 2018 Prosperity Now Scorecard paints a picture of many Oklahoma families struggling to make ends meets and build a better future for themselves. Oklahoma’s 40th place ranking is a decline from our 37th place score last year – which itself was a decline from 34th the year before [OK Policy].

Leftover criminal justice reform bill passes Oklahoma House: A criminal justice reform measure left dormant since last session was quickly advanced by the Oklahoma House on Tuesday, just a day after the Legislature returned to the Capitol. House Bill 2281 would reduce penalties for 21 low-level property offenses, including bogus checks, forgery, embezzlement and other so-called “paper crimes.” The proposed changes include a tiered system of fines and jail time [NewsOK]. The Justice Reform Task Force recommendations could be the solution Oklahoma desperately needs [OK Policy].

Legislators step into Step Up after State of the State: In her State of the State address to Oklahoma legislators on Monday, Gov. Mary Fallin laid down her challenge for the new session: pass a budget based on the Step Up Oklahoma plan. There’s still plenty of persuading to do if reactions from local legislators are any indication. The future of the plan, unveiled by Oklahoma’s business leaders as a way to fix the state’s ongoing financial issues, is very much up in the air as a second special session to fix the budget rolls into a new regular one [Norman Transcript]. Step Up Oklahoma plan adds to the consensus that new revenues are essential [OK Policy].

Anti-tax group begins ad campaign targeting Oklahoma lawmakers: A group led by former top officials at the Oklahoma Farm Bureau has begun an advertising campaign urging Oklahomans to call their legislators to oppose higher taxes. The organization, No New Oklahoma Taxes, purchased broadcast time during ESPN and FoxNews programming for an ad that says higher taxes would hurt Oklahoma families [NewsOK].

Investigative committee turns to state’s information technology costs: The state’s chief information officer on Tuesday again defended his department against claims that large-scale consolidation of technology services has increased IT costs rather than save the hundreds of millions of dollars claimed by the Fallin administration. The committee was originally charged with looking into mismanagement at the Department of Health, but turned to the IT department after complaints it contributed to the problem with excessive charges for services and new systems [Tulsa World].

Court case could define Indian Country, Oklahoma: One Muscogee (Creek) citizen’s court case might have the ability to affect not only the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, but the state of Oklahoma and Indian law as we know it. The landmark case known as Murphy v. Royal will decide what court has the authority to try Patrick Murphy for committing murder within the Muscogee (Creek) Nation jurisdiction, but not on MCN-owned or trust land. At the heart of the issue, and what the courts could decide is the definition of Indian Country [Mvskoke Media].

As first students graduate, Cherokee immersion program faces critical test: Will the language survive? Thirteen years ago, in an unguarded moment on her first day of kindergarten, Emilee Chavez spoke a single word of English. And a classmate immediately ran to tell the teacher. “Hey,” the teacher raised her voice harshly, “you can’t use English here. Speak Cherokee, or don’t say anything at all.” Chavez’s parents would have gotten in trouble if a teacher had caught them speaking a word of Cherokee, which is one reason the language began plummeting toward extinction [Tulsa World].

A private association supplies overdose antidote to Oklahoma sheriffs: A private law enforcement association announced Tuesday it is supplying every Oklahoma sheriff and their deputies with the overdose-reversing drug Narcan. The Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association made the announcement at a news conference at the state Capitol on the second day of the 2018 legislative session [NewsOK].

Regulator wants to increase fees by $10.2 million: Tim Baker has more responsibility and less money. The Oil and Gas Conservation Division director on Tuesday outlined the rationale behind agency staff’s proposal to increase the amounts and number of industry fees. Oil and gas sector representatives blamed the Legislature for inadequately funding the Oklahoma Corporation Commission [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Supreme Court allows ballot question effort to move ahead: A petition seeking to allow optometrists and eyeglass retailers to operate in large retail stores like Walmart can move ahead after the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected an effort to stop it Tuesday. The high court’s decision is a victory for Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom, which has lobbied for the change [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“This initial movement is encouraging but big impact bills are still out there and those have to pass, without being watered down, to stop skyrocketing prison growth.”

– Chairman of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform Kris Steele, commenting on the House passage of a bill relaxing penalties for 21 low-level property crimes. The bill was part of a major package of reforms introduced last year (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of bills and joint resolutions introduced in Oklahoma’s 2017 legislative session that became law.

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Bank of America is the latest company to ban this dreaded job-interview question: Hiring managers across Bank of America will soon be prohibited from asking a question most job candidates love to hate: How much were you paid in your last job? The banking giant said last week in a memo to employees that starting in March, it would restrict “how we solicit compensation information from candidates,” adopting a policy that has been in place in certain markets where it was required [Washington Post].

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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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