In The Know: House Republicans and Democrats strike revenue-raising deal, House speaker says

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

House Republicans and Democrats strike revenue-raising deal, House speaker says: Republicans and Democrats in the state House have agreed on a plan to raise about $400 million in revenue, Speaker Charles McCall said Thursday. The plan includes increasing the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack, said McCall, R-Atoka. The current tax is $1.03 per pack. It also includes reducing some incentives given to the oil and gas industry but does not include an increase in the gross production tax or raising taxes on gasoline and diesel, McCall said [Tulsa World].

Lawmakers redo deduction bill to exclude charities: Legislation that would cap itemized deductions on state tax returns now excludes charitable giving from the limit. The latest version of the bill came about after concerns were expressed by nonprofits to carve out donations. The new bill, House Bill 2403, still caps the amount of deductions that can be claimed to $17,000 per year for the next three tax seasons [NewsOK]. The earlier itemized deduction proposal had its flaws, but opponents’ claims were overstated [OK Policy].

Oklahoma officials still pondering oil, gas tax rate hike: Republican leaders in the Oklahoma House and Senate are seriously negotiating a gross production tax rate increase, House Democratic Leader Scott Inman said at a Thursday news conference. Lawmakers, particularly those in the Senate, have been wary of calls to raise the tax rate on oil and gas production, said Inman, D-Del City. Industry officials have said a rate increase would hurt drilling in Oklahoma at a time when activity is rebounding [NewsOK]. To prevent catastrophic cuts and put our finances back on a sustainable course, lawmakers must raise new recurring revenues. Part of the solution needs to include ending tax breaks for the oil and gas industry and restoring the gross production tax to its historical level of 7 percent [OK Policy].

Lawmaker on dustup with oil lobbyist: ‘They’re not going to bully us’: The president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association got into a heated argument with a handful of legislators Tuesday evening at an Oklahoma City restaurant. The dustup stemmed from lawmaker dissatisfaction with personal-attack ads run by OKOGA in print publications and on TV. An employee of Mahogany Prime Steakhouse in downtown OKC asked OKOGA president Chad Warmington and lawmakers to take their argument outside, according to people present [NonDoc].

OCPA’s attack on OK Policy and ITEP doesn’t hold up: Last night, the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs released a statement attacking the credibility and integrity of Oklahoma Policy Institute and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). They claim that a “Number of the Day” we cited from a report by ITEP regarding Devon Energy’s effective state corporate income tax rates from 2008 to 2015 is “not based on facts.” However, OCPA apparently did not look at or understand the methodology of the ITEP report, which fully explains where the numbers came from and how they were analyzed to make the best possible estimate of effective state corporate income tax rates [OK Policy].

Fallin vetoes shameful small loan legislation: Gov. Mary Fallin did the right thing when she vetoed House Bill 1913, a proposal to create an expensive new form of payday lending that could charge customers up to 204 percent annual interest. Shame on those in the Legislature who voted for the measure. Concerned about the prospect of federal regulation of its other products, the small loan industry is pushing hard for the new form of lending, installment loans of up to $1,500 at up to 17 percent interest a month [Editorial Writers / Tulsa World]. By vetoing HB 1913, Governor Fallin has prevented the expansion of predatory lending practices that would trap more Oklahomans in costly debt [OK Policy].

Drug court graduation filled with hope, tears: For Moore resident Al Anderson, graduating from Cleveland County drug court means getting another chance at a life outside of prison after 30 years of drug addiction. “I cannot definitively say that drug court saved my life, but it definitely saved me from self destruction,” Anderson said during a courthouse graduation ceremony Thursday [NewsOK].

We cannot continue at this rate: Every single day, I get to wake up and work with the most incredible minds. Every day, I get to see these young minds tackle problems and learn to work through something with a friend. Every day, I get to facilitate discussions that will ripple far beyond the walls where we work. Every day, I get to teach in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This privilege is my passion [Tulsa Public Schools Teacher of the Year Elizabeth Steinocher / Tulsa World]. Oklahoma’s investment in preK-12 education has plummeted in recent years [OK Policy]. 

TPS superintendent makes final pitch on budget cut recommendations: Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist presented her final recommendations for budget reductions for the 2017-18 school year at a special board meeting Thursday evening. As TPS leaders continue to anticipate a $12 million reduction in state aid for next school year, the school board is expected to vote Monday on Gist’s recommendations to cut the district’s budget to meet that funding gap [Tulsa World].

One GOP lawmaker’s plan to save money: Turning non-English-speaking kids over to ICE: Republicans in the Oklahoma state legislature have a challenge on their hands: figuring out how to address a gaping, $900 million hole in the state budget without raising taxes. Some lawmakers have proposed firing nonessential college employees. Others want to drop a film tax credit, saving the state as much as $5 million. Republican Rep. Mike Ritze told CBS affiliate KWTV that he has another proposal in mind: rounding up the state’s 82,000 non-English-speaking students and handing them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement [Washington Post].

Oklahoma’s choice: A Third World standard or the Oklahoma Standard: During my almost 50 years of working for the people of Oklahoma, we have endured more than our share of hardships. From tragedy at the hands of man, to adverse weather conditions that are sometimes devastating to crops, homes and businesses, to being heavily reliant on an energy-based economy that can sour in days and take years to recover, we have overcome many challenges. Oklahomans are known worldwide for our ability to band together, regardless of our differences, and walk away from adversity better for it [Gary Ridley / Tulsa World].

State attorneys general seek to expand Medicaid fraud prosecutions: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has joined with counterparts from 36 other states in requesting a federal policy change that would expand their ability to investigate and prosecute Medicaid fraud, neglect and abuse cases that occur in non-institutional settings. Federal funds that many state attorneys general use to operate Medicaid Fraud Control Units currently come with a policy restriction that limits their use to investigating and prosecuting Medicaid fraud, abuse and neglect case that occur in institutional setting [NewsOK].

Summer, After-School Programs Out of Reach for Many Parents: Two years ago, Erin DeVoe sent her son, Hayden, to summer camp at a private school at a cost of $250 a week, which crunched her budget. It wasn’t even full-day, and she had to pick him up mid-afternoon. That can be tough for a working parent, particularly for a single mother like DeVoe, who is a teacher. “I couldn’t do it again,” she said. “He’d asked about it a couple of times, but I couldn’t do it again.” [Oklahoma Watch]

Restraining order sought against maverick candidate for state Democratic Party chairman: The Tulsa County Democratic Party has asked for a restraining order against Mike Workman, a party maverick and frequent candidate who this year is campaigning for state party chairman. In a petition filed Wednesday in Tulsa County District Court, current and past party officers say they’ve been threatened and harassed by Workman, and ask for an emergency restraining order to keep him 100 yards from the party headquarters, 13 feet from county officers and restrict his communications with the county party to email [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma City sales tax rebounds: Oklahoma City’s sales tax revenue is up for the first time in more than a year. Budget Director Doug Dowler says collections for this month are up 2.6 percent from May 2016. After declines in 18 of the past 20 months, results could indicate the city’s retail economy has turned a corner. Sales tax is the city’s single-largest source of revenue, vital to services such as police and fire protection [NewsOK].

Flu Season Winding Down In Oklahoma: The state’s 2017 influenza season appears to be coming to a close. The Oklahoma Department of Health says the number of statewide deaths, 96, remains unchanged from last week and there have been no new hospitalizations. The state Health Department says the flu season typically is over by the end of May [NewsOn6].

Quote of the Day

“This session is a series of very difficult votes for every party. And it is going to be a gut check for every member whether or not they are willing to step up and make the very, very difficult votes at a very, very difficult time and then go back to their district and explain why they did what they did.”

– Oklahoma House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City) (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma’s non-elderly population with a preexisting condition that could leave them uninsurable in the individual market if the Affordable Care Act’s protections are repealed.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Bipartisan Support of Public Goods Made America Great: All Americans are lucky to live in a country brimming with public resources that everyone can share. The Conversation Many are provided by government and funded with our tax dollars, such as the highways that crisscross the country, the 84 million acres of national parks and the roughly 100,000 public schools that give all children access to education. Others come from nature, like mountains, lakes and rivers, which also depend on a reliable government and meaningful regulations to preserve and protect them. While the collective value of these “public goods” is probably incalculable, the economic impact of schools, clean air, and vast highways has been significant. In fact, I would argue that public goods are what have made America great [CityLab].

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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.

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