In The Know: House committee approves revived revenue package including rise in GPT

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

House committee approves revived revenue package including rise in GPT: An Oklahoma House committee has approved a revived revenue bill that includes a rise in the gross production tax. The Oklahoma House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget revived HB 1054X Tuesday which includes a $1.50 cigarette tax increase, a six cent fuel tax increase, an alcohol consumption tax and an increase in the Gross Production Tax. The bill puts an increase of the tax of four percent for 36 months on new wells and two percent on legacy wells [KOKH]. The measure, known as House Bill 1054, is identical to House Bill 1035, a measure advanced by the Senate on Monday as the “last chance” before budget cuts are necessary [NewsOK]. Early counts suggest the revenue bill may lack enough bipartisan support [CNHI]. 

This is Oklahoma’s last chance: Yesterday, the State Senate passed with a bipartisan vote of 37-5 a revised version of HB 1035 which includes a $1.50 cigarette tax increase, a 6 cent fuel tax increase, and a 4 percent gross production tax on new wells. This comprehensive revenue plan, also dubbed Plan A+ or the “Grand Bargain”, now goes back to the House, where it must pass with a three-quarters majority to take effect in time to save lives threatened by the state’s budget emergency [OK Policy]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy].

‘Put it on the board’: How the year’s biggest vote could shape up: The 2017 Oklahoma Legislature has taken no bigger swing at a “grand bargain” than the vote that will be coming Wednesday in the House of Representatives — a doubling of the gross production tax rate on new wells, plus consumption taxes that will raise hundreds of millions of dollars in coming years. Passing such a measure would allow for a $3,000 teacher raise and a $1,000 state employee raise, if all goes to purported plan [NonDoc]. The ‘Grand Bargain’ offers Legislature a chance … if Speaker McCall can get the votes [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

Nursing home population, costs to state expected to soar under budget cuts: A state plan to cut services for the elderly and adults with disabilities is likely to result in thousands of Oklahomans being forced into nursing homes, and will worsen the state’s fiscal crisis in 2018, according to information provided by Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) and Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS). Jeff Wagner, DHS communications manager, said the agency is preparing to eliminate services under the ADvantage Waiver Program, a service that provides frail adults with in-home assistance, due to a $69 million gap in the department’s budget [Enid News].

Fallin makes no promises to bail out Dept. of Health: Gov. Mary Fallin makes no promises to bail out the Oklahoma State Department of Health after officials announced money mismanagement over several years, which could leave 2,000 innocent workers out of a job. “We need to look at how long they can wait until they get additional money,” Fallin said. “I just don’t know that answer yet but we’re going to be working on that in the next couple days.” [KOCO]

Local residents may have to save shelter: With the Oklahoma Legislature seemingly unable to get relief for anyone except energy industry magnates, and Congress displaying a similar lack of competence regarding our health care system, private citizens are going to have to take the charitable bull by the horns. Last week, local residents learned the Tahlequah Men’s Shelter could be on the verge of closing. Though funds are available to get the shelter through until February or March 2018, what happens next is anyone’s guess [Tahlequah Daily Press].

Muskogee community rallies for families preparing to face DHS cuts due to state budget challenges: Oklahoma families that deal with disabilities are planning ahead. Whether that means rallying or looking at giving up their jobs, the thousands getting care through DHS are fearful for the outcome of budget cuts in December. Jade Day organized the Rally to Save Oklahoma for her son Gavin, a nine-year-old at the Oklahoma School for the Blind [KJRH].

Number of Oklahoma County jail deaths raise concerns: In 2016, 15 people died in the custody of the Oklahoma County Jail, so far this year 10 people have been declared dead while in the custody of the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s office. Critics of the jail say that number is too high and a FOX 25 Investigation is raising questions about what is being counted on the official list of deaths connected to the jail. “It is important to note that a prisoner in a county jail has most of the same rights you and I have out in the world,” said Brady Henderson, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma [KOKH].

OBN discovers six new types of fentanyl in Oklahoma using autopsy reports: As prescription drugs are getting harder for people battling addiction to find, many are turning to the streets. Some of the pills that look like opioids are really made from a deadly form of fentanyl sent to Oklahoma from manufacturers overseas. Since May, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has discovered six new kinds of fentanyl in autopsy reports [KOCO].

Trump finds a Capitol Hill defender in Jim Inhofe as other Republicans criticize: While some Oklahoma Republicans — and Republican senators across the country — have been skeptical or openly critical of President Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe has emerged as a consistent defender of the president on Capitol Hill. “He’s getting things done. It’s kind of hard to really criticize him,” Inhofe told The Oklahoman on Friday, citing Trump’s judicial appointments and deregulation efforts [NewsOK].

Fallin taps OKC prosecutor to fill Court of Criminal Appeals vacancy: Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday announced the appointment of Scott Rowland to the Court of Criminal Appeals. Rowland, of Oklahoma City, succeeds Judge Arlene Johnson, who resigned. His appointment is effective immediately. Rowland has served nearly 11 years as first assistant district attorney for Oklahoma County [Tulsa World].

City council approves changes to Oklahoma City’s median safety ordinance: The Oklahoma City Council has approved changes to the city’s median safety ordinance. The ordinance now only prohibits pedestrians on medians for streets with speed limits of 40 mph or higher. The changes came as a response to the breadth of the original ordinance which went into effect in January 2016 and prohibited standing or sitting on medians based on the size of the median [KOKH].

Former state Senate leader Brian Bingman to seek Corporation Commission seat: Former state Senate Pro-Tempore Brian Bingman announced Tuesday that he will seek a seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Now vice president of land and operations for Uplands Resources, Bingman served a term-limited 12 years in the Oklahoma Legislature, six years as the Senate leader. While in the Senate, Bingman was principal author of comprehensive workers’ compensation reform measures [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“I’m imploring Republican and Democratic House members to vote for this measure … so that we help fill our budget hole for the current fiscal year as well as put Oklahoma on a more stable budget path. … Let’s prove to Oklahomans that we can solve our difficult budget problem and move our state forward.”

– Gov. Mary Fallin, urging the House to pass the comprehensive budget plan, HB 1054, approved by the Senate earlier this week (Source). The House is scheduled to vote on the measure on Wednesday. Call your Representative and urge them to vote yes

Number of the Day

17 cents

State gasoline taxes per gallon, 48th in the US

Source: Tax Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Insufficiency Of Medicaid Block Grants: The Example Of Puerto Rico: Medicaid block grants have been a centerpiece of Republican health proposals for more than a decade. Proponents, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), argue that giving states a fixed amount of money through a block grant or per-person limit with few strings attached gets Washington out of the way and allows for state innovation. … But one need look no further than the growing health crisis in Puerto Rico to understand why capped federal money and state flexibility will not solve serious health care issues [Health Affairs].

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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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