In The Know: Governor To Call Special Session Before End Of The Year

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

Governor To Call Special Session Before End Of The Year: Governor Fallin says she will call a special session this month to fill a roughly $110-million budget shortfall. Lawmakers couldn’t agree on tax increases during regular session, the main sticking point, the tax on oil and natural gas, called gross production tax. With the clock running down, Republicans pulled a Hail Mary and passed an unconstitutional tobacco tax. That left the state $215-million in the hole. [News9] Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy]

House committee to hold first meeting in Dept. of Health investigation Monday: The House Special Investigation Committee plans to meet Monday to begin discussions on apparent mismanagement at the Oklahoma Department of Health. The committee, headed by State Rep. Josh Cockroft, is looking into the mismanagement of $30 million taxpayer dollars at the OSDH. [Fox25]

More than a million children could lose their health insurance next year: Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program ran out at the end of September. Though the program enjoys bipartisan support, it has still gotten caught up in the political battles playing out on Capitol Hill. [CNN Money] State Plans for CHIP as Federal CHIP Funds Run Out [Kaiser Family Foundation]

Prosperity Policy: Nothing to celebrate: President Trump and congressional Republicans were celebrating this week when their tax overhaul bill, built around major tax cuts for corporations, passed the Senate. Unfortunately, for most Americans, the tax bill is nothing to celebrate. [David Blatt/Journal Record]

Tax Bill Is Likely to Undo Health Insurance Mandate, Republicans Say: House and Senate negotiators thrashing out differences over a major tax bill are likely to eliminate the insurance coverage mandate at the heart of the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers say. But a deal struck by Senate Republican leaders and Senator Susan Collins of Maine to mitigate the effect of the repeal has been all but rejected by House Republicans, potentially jeopardizing Ms. Collins’s final yes vote. [NY Times] Child uninsured rate is a health care bright spot for Oklahoma [OK Policy]

Spending labeled ‘non-instruction’ is wrongly characterized as waste: The Oklahoma Cost Accounting System (OCAS) for public schools was created in 1992, and its purpose was to provide uniform policies and procedures to all school personnel responsible for the administration of school district funds. OCAS criteria lists only teachers and textbooks as specific instructional costs under its coding system. Subsequently, most public school coding would list all counselors, teacher aides, internet technology, librarians, custodians, bus drivers, electricity, etc. as non-instructional costs. [Sen. Ron Sharp/OK Policy] Oklahoma continues to lead U.S. for deepest cuts to education [OK Policy]

Local representatives talk current legislature, budget: State Reps. Chad Caldwell and John Enns said a lot of uncertainty remains as state leaders continue to work to come up with a budget solution. “We’re obviously in a challenging budget environment … we obviously had one plan that came close to garnering enough bipartisan support. It passed in the Senate and came up a few votes short in the House,” Caldwell said. “(That) left us with not a lot of room to turn, which is why we passed the budget that we passed.” [Enid News] Vetoed budget was a squandered opportunity of massive proportions [OK Policy]

Dysfunctional state government: How did Oklahoma state government get so dysfunctional? Just four years ago, Oklahoma was riding high. The price of oil was $100 a barrel and state government was flush with money. Now with the price less than half that, state government is struggling to pay the bills. [Steve Fair/Stillwater News Press] Lessons of Our History: Oklahoma’s past accomplishments teach us how to build a better budget and a better future [OK Policy]

Community college consolidation study ignites debate over control: A group within the state’s higher education agency has gotten on board with the idea of consolidation, even though the proposal is controversial. Gov. Mary Fallin signed an executive order about two weeks ago, mandating some consolidation within the system, writing in the order that it would foster faith in the officials’ ability to manage the state’s appropriations responsibly. The order didn’t direct the regents on how to carry out that task but required higher education officials to present their own plan in December 2018. [Journal Record] Dozens of recommendations approved by 60-member task force on the future of Oklahoma higher education [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma agency working to make sure children stay warm this winter: An Oklahoma agency that works with children is working to make sure that all kids are warm this winter. In 2016Cuts to substance abuse services will mean higher costs and worse outcomes, the Oklahoma County Juvenile Bureau created the ‘Clothing Closet.’ The ‘Clothing Closet’ features racks of professional clothing that was donated to the agency for kids to have for school, job interviews and court hearings. Now, organizers say they realized the need extends far beyond just professional attire. [KFOR]

Pregnant drug abusers could face felony charges: District Attorney Craig Ladd says his office is working on prosecuting mothers who deliver babies that test positive for drugs. Ladd says that even though a fetus is not recognized as a child under Oklahoma Law, newborns found with drugs in their system can lead to the mother being charged with child neglect. [KXII] Cuts to substance abuse services will mean higher costs and worse outcomes [OK Policy]

Oklahoma voters to decide on equal rights for crime victims: There’s change to the Oklahoma Constitution being proposed that would give victims of violent crimes equal rights to those who are accused. If approved by voters in the November 2018 election, State Question 794 would enact Marsy’s Law. Supporters say it mandates that victims get timely updates about the status of offenders. [KTEN]

Oklahoma among 13 states with legal challenge to California egg law: Oklahoma joined a dozen other states Monday to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block a California law requiring any eggs sold there to come from hens that have space to stretch out in their cages. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma could stand to trim number of boards, agencies: Lawmakers interested in potentially saving the state a few dollars, without a ton of heavy lifting, should consider reducing the number of agencies, boards and commissions now on the books. By our count, there are more than 200 such entities in the latest version of The ABC Book. [Editorial Board/The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“They can’t really prepare for this. There’s not much in their control that can minimize the fallout.”

– Genevieve Kenney, co-director of the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute, discussing options available to parents of children on CHIP if Congress doesn’t reauthorize the program and their state opts to end the program (Source)

Number of the Day


Acres of watermelons planted in Oklahoma in 2015

Source: USDA

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Without Obamacare Mandate, ‘You Open the Floodgates’ for Skimpy Health Plans: The drive by Senate Republicans to repeal the requirement that most Americans have health insurance is not only likely to discourage people from signing up for coverage during the current enrollment period, but also could result in higher premiums. If repeal is approved, people could opt out of buying policies because they would no longer face a tax penalty and millions could go uninsured. With the Affordable Care Act already weakened by the Trump administration, big drops in enrollment would deal yet another body blow to the law and wreak more havoc in the individual insurance market [NY Times]

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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