In The Know: Gov. Mary Fallin to propose major overhaul of the state’s tax system

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. Mary Fallin to propose major overhaul of the state’s tax system: Gov. Mary Fallin on Thursday said she will propose a major overhaul of the state’s tax system. Fallin spoke to reporters during a legislative forum at the Capitol. She will deliver her state of the state address to lawmakers Monday and release her proposed budget. With the downturn in the energy industry, the past few years have been challenging, she said [Tulsa World].

Governor’s task force calls for decreasing sentences for drug crimes: Faced with a rapidly growing prison population in a state with the second-highest incarceration rate in the nation, a task force created by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin issued a report Thursday calling for dramatic decreases in sentences for nonviolent drug dealers and manufacturers. Without reform, Oklahoma is on pace to add 7,218 inmates over the next 10 years, requiring three new prisons and costing the state an additional $1.9 billion in capital expenditures and operating costs, the report said [NewsOK]. The recommendations can be found here

Drug possession close to schools would become felony again under Biggs’ bill: Scott Biggs has an expanded leadership role in the legislature this year, but that hasn’t stopped District 51 Republican from crafting bills he believes are near to his constituents’ hearts. One such bill is HB 1482, called the, “Keep Oklahoma Children Safe from Illegal Drugs Act of 2017.” Biggs filed over 40 bills during the 2017 legislative session, and a couple joint resolutions making him one of the more active representatives in the Republican Party [The Express-Star].

Oklahoma lawmaker proposes changes to Reading Sufficiency Act: An Oklahoma organization and senator are teaming up to take on a law that focuses on a child’s ability to read. Right now, Oklahoma third graders are required to take the Reading Sufficiency Act before they can move on to the fourth grade. But, not everyone supports the law. “Tests serve a purpose, but they should never be the one time on one date to define a child,” said Katherine Bishop, vice president of the Oklahoma Education Association [KFOR].

Benefits of Holt’s bill go beyond profits: If the Oklahoma Benefit Corporation Act gets passed this time, socially focused capitalists could have an easier time getting their good deeds done. The law would protect directors from lawsuits that angry shareholders could file after the leadership prioritized philanthropy over profit. Companies would have to be designated as a benefit corporation to get the protections, and the rules would apply only to those that do [Journal Record].

Proposed sales tax cuts would benefit women, young families: He said it’s a long shot, but one Oklahoma legislator wants to give working families a tax break. It would come in the form of a sales tax cut for young families and for women. State Rep. Shane Stone, D-Oklahoma City, introduced two bills that would put exemptions on diapers, formula, other baby supplies and feminine hygiene products [Journal Record].

Lawmakers Consider Selling Parts Of GRDA To Help Fund Budget: Lawmakers in Oklahoma City are exploring options this session to fund the state’s budget crunch. One of those ideas is to sell off the Grand River Dam Authority. The GRDA says it contributes $1 billion to Oklahoma’s economy. From the dams, power plants, lakes and streams, the GRDA is an independently run state agency in northeastern Oklahoma [NewsOn6].

“You incentivize a lot of bad things,” Oklahoma senator files bill to ban sanctuary cities in Oklahoma: In response to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, cities across the country are declaring themselves sanctuary cities. Wednesday, Cincinnati joined that list. Right now, there are no cities in our state that have sanctuary policies. Now, a bill filed in the Senate would cut funding to cities or counties that adopt sanctuary policies [KFOR].

Committee recommends Rep. Dan Kirby’s expulsion from the House amid sexual harassment allegations: A House panel on Thursday recommended that Rep. Dan Kirby be expelled from the lower chamber following allegations of sexual harassment. The House goes back into session Monday. It would take two-thirds of the House, or 68 members, to expel Kirby, R-Tulsa. If lawmakers vote for Kirby’s expulsion, it would mark the first time in Oklahoma history for such an event [Tulsa World].

Tulsa County jail facing $2 million budget shortfall, officials say: The Tulsa County jail is likely to need an additional $2 million from other county operations to make it through the current budget year, officials said Thursday. That figure is in addition to a $2.4 million “contingency fund” the jail expects to deplete, and a total of nearly $7.5 million transferred to jail accounts in the two previous budget years [Tulsa World].

Fewer students enrolling in Oklahoma scholarship program, but more succeeding: Students who complete all the requirements to earn the Oklahoma’s Promise tuition scholarship are twice as likely to go directly to college after high school, according to the program’s annual report. The 2015-16 report showed 87 percent of 2015 high school graduates who earned the scholarship entered college the next fall, compared to 44 percent of their peers [NewsOK]. How does the scholarship work – and why is it so important for low- and middle-income Oklahomans? [OK Policy]

Tulsa pastors divided on President Trump’s pledge to end political limits on churches: President Donald Trump said Thursday that he will work to ease IRS restrictions on political speech from the pulpit, which received a mixed response from several Tulsa-area pastors. Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, Trump reiterated he would make good on a campaign promise to “destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.” [Tulsa World]

EPA: Oklahoma isn’t doing enough to protect citizens from earthquakes: The Environmental Protection Agency has told Oklahoma officials they aren’t doing enough to protect the state’s drinking water and citizens from strong earthquakes caused by wastewater injection, a letter obtained by The Frontier shows. State officials responded, saying Gov. Mary Fallin had appointed a task force to study other ways to dispose of wastewater generated by oil and gas drilling and other responses were under consideration [The Frontier].

Republicans Outmaneuver Democratic Boycott to Allow Senate Vote on Oklahoma’s Scott Pruitt for EPA Boss: With no Democrats in the room, U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday voted unanimously to approve the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Republicans in the Environment and Public Works Committee voted to suspend committee rules to defeat a two-day boycott by Democrats who say Pruitt is unfit to serve as the nation’s top environmental regulator [StateImpact Oklahoma].

The Misunderstood Genius of Russell Westbrook: In Philadelphia, before the first game of the N.B.A. season, Russell Westbrook worked through his warm-up routine. He was loose and laughing but – as always – precise. Westbrook’s internal clock had driven him to be the first player out on the court, a full three hours before tipoff, and he was performing his routine in front of a largely empty arena. He started with chip-ins and free throws, easy stuff to get his body going, and then moved on to his signature shot: the pull-up jumper. Westbrook’s pull-up is one of modern basketball’s most recognizable weapons – if not yet quite on the level of Kareem’s skyhook or Jordan’s turnaround or Dirk’s one-legged fadeaway, then at least at the edge of that territory. The move is a surprise attack [The New York Times]. 

Quote of the Day

“We can’t afford to keep doing the things we’ve been doing in this state.”

– Gov. Mary Fallin, explaining why she’ll announce a major overhaul of the state’s tax system (Source)

Number of the Day


Violent crimes per 100,00 of the population in Oklahoma in 2016

Source: America’s Health Rankings

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Starting Strong: How to Improve Teachers’ Entry into the Profession: When a new doctor first enters the profession, she is not immediately handed the scalpel. When a lawyer graduates from law school, he is not immediately expected to try significant cases, especially without support from a team. And yet when teachers are first handed the keys to their classrooms, they are each suddenly responsible for the futures of dozens of students. These new teachers rarely receive the necessary training or guidance to ensure that their first months, or even years, on the job are positive and productive. To ensure that all teachers have the opportunity to excel from day one, prospective and new teachers should have the opportunity to learn from mentor teachers, practice essential teaching skills, and gradually improve their practice [Center for American Progress].

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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.

One thought on “In The Know: Gov. Mary Fallin to propose major overhaul of the state’s tax system

  1. leaving aside the usual ill-informed and self-serving but highly predictable blather of DAs who, were they in the upper intellectual echelons of their profession, would be in nicer offices making far more money, let’s just do the math on the 7% prison pop reduction over a decade described in the Governor’s crim just reform article. Roughly 28k inmates in state and local facilities > 2000 total reduced, or > 200 per year. Unlikely that these will all be from one security level, meaning that the marginal impact of the cut on overall prison pops, even in a single major facility, will be inadequate for substantial cost reduction as well. If you don’t have enough to close down a facility and take the staff off the payroll, you won’t see much saving and you won’t have much to “reinvest” in your reform efforts. For a great example, see NY which has closed double digit prisons and has higher costs now than pre-closings because staff were shuffled, not fired. It’s not that the proposals are bad, despite the typical “we really don’t understand offenders the way we say we do” responses from the prosecutors on the panel. It’s that they are the equivalent of caulking and sealing joints on your house when your attic is on fire and your basement is full of termites. OK needs to cut its prison population, or at least incarceration rates, back to levels of decades ago, which coincidentally had better crime rates, if the reductions will have any hope of freeing money for the constructive and positive things the state could do with the money (see Mental Health above). That OK has been doing the same criminal justice reform discussion for over two decades now is the best sign of where this will likely end, however.

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