In The Know: Gov. Mary Fallin says she will veto any budget with deep cuts to state agencies

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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including Advocacy Alerts, the Legislative Primer, the What’s That? Glossary, and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Gov. Mary Fallin says she will veto any budget with deep cuts to state agencies: Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday said she will veto any budget that contains deep cuts to state agencies. Lawmakers have been in session since February, but the governor said they have not sent her any substantial revenue-raising measures in the face of an $878 million budget hole. Fallin said 17 days remain in the legislative session, but revenue-raising measures can’t be voted on in the five final days [Tulsa World].

Prosperity Policy: No truth in labeling: There’s a long tradition in legislatures of assigning pretty-sounding labels to legislation’s true intent. A bill to relax environmental standards may be called the Clean Skies Act. If a bill is titled the Taxpayer Protection Act, you’ll want to hold on to your wallet. If awards were given for the most misleading and cynical bill title, this year’s House Bill 1270, the Restore Hope, Opportunity and Prosperity for Everyone, or HOPE Act, would be an easy winner [David Blatt / Journal Record]. HB 1270 is still an expensive, unnecessary bill that would put access to basic health care for Oklahoma families at risk [OK Policy].

Oklahoma House turns testy as revenue bill withdrawn: Tension mounted in the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Wednesday as Republicans fumed, Democrats held firm in their opposition to the GOP majority’s budget offerings, and Gov. Mary Fallin told a packed news conference that somebody better do something quick about the $1 billion general fund shortfall. It didn’t happen in the House, where a $340 million cigarette and fuel tax bill was shelved after the 26-member Democratic minority called a news conference to say they wouldn’t vote for it [Tulsa World].

How would you fix the budget? Oklahoma lawmakers have just a few more weeks to balance the state budget. Their budget decisions are deeply important for Oklahomans’ lives, yet with so many budget needs and revenue proposals flying around, it can be hard for the average voter to see the big picture. That’s why we’ve created an online budget simulator with Together Oklahoma, where you can put yourself in lawmakers’ shoes and choose how to fix the state budget [OK Policy].

Senate passes bill reducing road funding; gas tax anticipated to fill gap: The Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that reduces funding for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. Senate Bill 837 would reduce funding to the agency by $251 million in hopes that a portion of that could be made up by increasing the tax on gasoline and diesel by 6 cents. The measure passed by a vote of 39-5 and now heads to the House. A gasoline tax increase would require a super majority in both chambers and bring in $125.1 million [Tulsa World].

Legislature moving in the right direction: A bill that would increase the cigarette tax and fuel tax, as well as slash oil and gas incentives, made it through preliminary votes in the Oklahoma Legislature. It’s definitely a move in the right direction. House Democrats are fighting it, though, because it doesn’t include an increase in gross production tax, which Oklahoma desperately needs. A cigarette tax increase shouldn’t be held hostage to pass the gross production tax [Editorial Board / Norman Transcript].

ODOT turns up the political heat on the Legislature; schools still in the cold: The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has suspended several road projects because the Legislature hasn’t shored up future funding for the agency and its work. Locally, that means plans for a $5.9 million resurfacing and repair project on U.S. 169, $8 million in bridge repairs over Interstate 244 at Harvard, Pittsburg and Yale avenues and Memorial Drive, and $5.8 million in bridge work on the I-244 and Interstate 44 split off the Turner Turnpike are on hold [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Lending Bill Reflects Nationwide Industry Effort: A bill that creates a new type of high-interest installment loan is similar to legislation introduced in at least a dozen states this year and last, suggesting Oklahoma’s bill is a template being shopped nationally by the payday lending industry. House Bill 1913, which passed the Legislature and is on Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk, would create “small” loans with a monthly interest of 17 percent, which equates to a 204 percent annual interest rate. A 12-month loan of $1,500 would leave borrowers owing about $2,100 in cumulative interest [Oklahoma Watch]. Please contact Governor Mary Fallin to express your opposition to HB 1913 and ask her to veto the bill [OK Policy].

Oklahoma’s once busy death chamber to stay quiet much longer: Oklahoma has had one of the busiest death chambers in the country for decades, executing more people per capita than any other state since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that death sentences could resume. But after a botched lethal injection in 2014 and drug mix-ups in 2015 that led to one inmate being executed with the wrong drug and another just moments away from being strapped to a gurney before his lethal injection was halted, the state is facing a series of hurdles and long delays before it could resume capital punishment [Associated Press].

Fallin Calls For Special Elections For House, Senate: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has scheduled special elections to fill vacant seats in the state House and Senate. Fallin on Wednesday set elections for Senate District 45 and House District 76. Former Sen. Kyle Loveless of Oklahoma City resigned the Senate seat April 27 as he’s being investigated for his use of campaign funds. The House seat is open due to the death of Rep. David Brumbaugh of Broken Arrow [NewsOn6].

Attorneys challenge legality of self-insurance program for Oklahoma state employees: A group of five Oklahoma attorneys filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to rule that the workers’ compensation self-insurance program being operated for state employees is illegal. “We have long held the belief that the state self-insured plan is not complying with the law and we don’t think that it is financially sound,” said Bob Burke, one of the five attorneys who filed the lawsuit as Oklahoma taxpayers. “We think it puts the taxpayers at risk.” [NewsOK]

Proposed cuts to TPS central office include staff for campus police, fine arts: Campus police, fine arts and the HelmZar Challenge and Ropes Course are among the areas in which the Tulsa school board will be asked to approve eliminating positions at a special meeting Thursday evening. Fifty-five central office positions will be recommended for elimination for the 2017-18 school year, the meeting agenda posted Wednesday evening shows. The school board will be asked to not renew the employment of individuals occupying those positions [Tulsa World].

Putting panhandlers to work: Program a popular idea nationwide: Mayor G.T. Bynum wants Tulsa to help panhandlers by offering them day-labor jobs, a program pioneered by leaders in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “You go around finding people that are panhandling, and you offer them an honest day’s work,” Bynum said. “While you’re doing that, you also connect them with social services. … It’s a win-win and at a remarkably low cost.” [Tulsa World]

Tulsa police union files ethics complaint against DA Steve Kunzweiler alleging ‘rushed’ decision in Betty Shelby case: The Tulsa police union lodged an ethics complaint Wednesday against District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, alleging he “unfairly” charged Officer Betty Shelby without probable cause because he “rushed” to a decision before all evidence had been submitted to his office. The ethics complaint, filed with the Oklahoma Bar Association, alleges Kunzweiler didn’t have probable cause to charge Shelby “merely based on watching a video” of her fatal encounter with Terence Crutcher [Tulsa World].

How this Tulsan lost everything to addiction but worked to get her life back: Desha Bailey is grateful for the simple life. She likes the small home in Tulsa that she and her two children, ages 6 and 10, live in. And she likes going to bed early and waking up every day to an assembly line job. Because Bailey knows what it’s like to lose it all. Struggling with drug addiction, Bailey was arrested a few years ago because of meth. She repeatedly tried to get treatment but instead got jail time [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“I know it is a hard vote. I have had to make a lot of hard votes, too. But I am willing to stay here at this Capitol as long as I need to, and if I have to veto the budget because we don’t get our work done and we devastate our state agencies and not fund core mission services our citizens actually demand that we do, then I am willing to veto the budget. I am willing to stay as long as we need to until we get our job done.”

– Gov. Fallin, warning lawmakers that they have just a few weeks left to develop a workable budget at a press conference on Wednesday (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of opioid overdose deaths in Oklahoma in 2015 that were female, the 4th highest in the US

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People: You’ve probably heard the news that the celebrated post-WW II beating heart of America known as the middle class has gone from ‘burdened,’ to ‘squeezed’ to ‘dying.’ But you might have heard less about what exactly is emerging in its place. In a new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Peter Temin, Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT, draws a portrait of the new reality in a way that is frighteningly, indelibly clear: America is not one country anymore. It is becoming two, each with vastly different resources, expectations, and fates [Institute for New Economic Thinking].

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.