In The Know: Governor says budget process didn’t skirt SQ 640, New taxes on cars and cigarettes taking effect soon, and more

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

Budget process didn’t skirt provisions of state question on tax increases, Gov. Mary Fallin says: Gov. Mary Fallin said Saturday that in crafting the budget she and lawmakers followed the intent of a state question that puts restrictions on tax increases. Fallin was asked about the issue during her appearance at the Oklahoma Press Association annual convention at the Skirvin Hilton. [Tulsa World]

Once intent on out-cutting Kansas, Oklahoma Republicans now seem glad they didn’t: In 2012, Gov. Mary Fallin and many Republican lawmakers were promising a drastic reduction of the state’s top income tax rate to keep pace with Kansas. Now most of them seem glad that’s a promise they haven’t kept. In fact, they’ve been patting themselves on the back for not taking the dark, bumpy road traveled by Kansas the past few years. [Tulsa World]

New taxes on cars, cigarettes taking effect soon: Oklahomans thinking about buying a car or truck in the next few months might want to do it before July 1. That’s when a new 1.25 percent sales tax on motor vehicles is scheduled to take effect. Smokers concerned about a new $1.50 per pack fee on cigarette purchases have a little longer to consider their next move. The cigarette fee increase isn’t scheduled to kick in until Aug. 25. [Tulsa World]

Three lessons from the 2017 Oklahoma Legislature: When I came in as the House Appropriations and Budget Committee chairwoman this year I knew it would be an uphill battle to right the ship and get the state back on firm fiscal footing. What I did not foresee was the level of dysfunction and lack of cooperation that ensued when we came together for session. [Rep. Leslie Osborn/Tulsa World]

Oklahoma public educators look to the future: Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister kicked off the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration summer conference this week by addressing public education’s dwindling resources and offering some words of encouragement for the future. “We remain committed to doing everything in our power to help schools fulfill that responsibility,” Hofmeister said. [Norman Transcript]

Oklahoma higher education told to keep doing more with less: For most of the past decade, Oklahoma’s public higher education system has found itself in an increasingly difficult situation. As business and political leaders have demanded more from colleges and universities, state funding has declined to its lowest level in nearly 20 years. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Academy proposals merit policymakers’ attention: The 2017 legislative session has been described by many, including several prominent legislators, as “dysfunctional.” Having heard both parties aspire to making things different in the 2017 session, little of what was considered to be most important was collaboratively addressed. The goal of “collective action for the good of all” was abandoned as the thinking of the 2017 Legislature. But this is the true north point of advocacy for The Oklahoma Academy. [Dan Boren & John Harper/The Oklahoman]

Senator explains legislator hurdles: State Sen. Ron Sharp said the 2017 legislative session was pressure-packed. Sharp said according to the few former legislators that are now lobbyists, there has not been a legislative session similar to this one since 1990. [Shawnee News-Star]

Oklahoma road funding concerns need to be addressed: An oft-asked question during my career with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber was, “Why does it take so long to get major road projects, like outdated interchanges, started, and once started, so long to complete?” A good example is the seven-plus years to complete the Interstate 40/I-35 Tinker interchange or more recently the present construction of I-235 between NW 36 and the I-44 interchange. Add to that the I-35/Crossroads interchange that is getting ramped up for a rebuild to facilitate future traffic growth. These major traffic choke points are not just common to the capital city but also Tulsa and other communities across the state. [Dean Schirf/The Oklahoman]

Fallin signs bill clarifying ‘teacher’ benefits: When Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill clarifying who gets benefits through the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System, she also made a policy statement alongside her signature that drew criticism. House Bill 2386 modifies the state’s definition of teacher to add superintendents, principals, supervisors and school nurses, all of whom were removed from the definition last year. [The Oklahoman]

Kansas repudiates supply-side tax cuts, and Oklahoma should too: The Kansas Legislature overrode Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of an income tax hike Tuesday, repudiating his failed supply-side economic belief that a state could find prosperity by eliminating its ability to fund core public services. Oklahoma politicians should pay attention. The Kansas measure will raise $1.2 billion in state revenue over two years. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]

State, federal agencies move to end contracts with Shadow Mountain Hospital: Federal and state officials are moving to cut off government funding to patients at Tulsa’s Shadow Mountain Behavioral Health System following a critical inspection of the facility. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority, in a June 1-dated letter, advised officials at the youth psychiatric hospital that it intended to terminate three of its SoonerCare contracts with the facility on July 31. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Oklahoma’s ill-considered state income tax cuts have devastated the state’s ability to fund public schools, higher education, health, mental health and public safety. The promise of short-term economic growth never appeared, and the state’s long-term prospects are being cut short by these self-inflicted wounds.”

– Tulsa World Editorial Writers regarding Kansas’s decision last week to rollback many of the tax cuts of 2012 (Source)

Number of the Day

$1.5 billion

What Oklahoma’s new required contribution to SNAP benefits over ten years would be under President Trump’s proposed budget

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Trump Wants Families On Food Stamps To Get Jobs. The Majority Already Work: When President Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, unveiled the administration’s budget blueprint earlier this week, which calls for significant cuts to food stamps, he noted that the aim of the budget was to get people working. “If you’re on food stamps and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you’re on disability insurance and you’re not supposed to be — if you’re not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work,” Mulvaney said Tuesday. But the reality is, many people (44 percent) who rely on SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as food stamps is now known — have at least one person in the family working, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. [NPR]

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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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