In The Know: Lawmakers not sure another special session will fix anything

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

Lawmakers not sure another special session will fix anything: Some lawmakers are skeptical that a second special session will be enough incentive to prompt the Legislature to solve any of the big budget conundrums that have already eluded them for weeks. [CNHI] Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy]

Oklahoma House leader working on ‘tweaks’ to failed tax plan: A top Republican Oklahoma House leader says work already is underway on potential changes to a broad tax-increase plan to shore up the state’s budget and generate funding for a teacher pay raise. Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols said Friday he’s remaining in touch with the governor’s office and that he’s working on potential “tweaks” to the plan that could garner the necessary 76 votes in the House. [AP] Vetoed budget was a squandered opportunity of massive proportions [OK Policy]

Oklahoma health agency to delay cuts, but only temporarily: The state agency that oversees Medicaid in Oklahoma will delay planned rate cuts for providers and nursing homes for another month. But Oklahoma Health Care Authority officials warned Wednesday they’re still planning for cuts in January. [Fox23]

Child abuse prevention program at risk because of state budget debacle: Child abuse and neglect are preventable tragedies. But a good local program that helps prevent those tragedies by teaching essential child-rearing skills to at-risk parents is in danger of becoming a victim of the state budget debacle. [Wayne Greene/Tulsa World] Child abuse statistics show how budget policy matters [OK Policy]

Unlikely Oklahoma Legislature Will Raise Taxes To Solve Budget Crisis: Gov. Mary Fallin will call the legislature back into session in the coming weeks to bridge a $110 million budget gap caused when she vetoed much of their budget plan. Lawmakers will likely have to make deep cuts because raising taxes does not seem to be an option. Over the past couple of months lawmakers tried, and failed to raise taxes. They failed because Oklahoma voters set the threshold for raising taxes so high. [News9]

Lawmakers considering effort to reduce supermajority threshold for tax increases: Oklahoma voters may be asked to revisit a state constitutional requirement that tax increases receive three-fourths support in both chambers of the Legislature or go to a vote of the people. [Tulsa World] Lawmakers debate future of 25-year-old tax law [CNHI] It’s time to revisit State Question 640 [OK Policy]

Veto gives lawmakers another chance to solve state’s budget woes: Rep. Todd Thomsen voted against the Legislature’s most recent effort to balance the books because it didn’t include a plan to generate additional revenue for the state in the future, he said Wednesday. The Ada Republican said he was pleasantly surprised when Gov. Mary Fallin rejected most of the budget bill late last week. [Ada News]

No. 1 for 25 years. And it’s an embarrassment.: Oklahoma has been No. 1 for 25 years. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with sports and everything to do with how many women we put in prison. Oklahoma’s incarceration of women has become another of those embarrassing statistics that plague this state. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World] Oklahoma’s sprawling criminal code could make a felon of almost anyone [OK Policy]

Kids Count study reveals Oklahoma children’s ups, downs: Basically, the economic welfare of poor children has been declining, with the most disadvantaged kids facing the sharpest drops. At minimum, states that have invested most wisely in early education have kept child welfare from dropping — some have even posted some improvements. For instance, states like Oklahoma that have taken the lead in early education are keeping the growing economic gaps from increasing the achievement gaps. [NonDoc] Census data shows Oklahoma fell further behind the U.S. on poverty and uninsured rate in 2016 [OK Policy]

Private sheriffs’ group profits from collected fines: A private organization once mired in scandal has become rich, thanks to a 2010 law giving it an administrative role in the collection of overdue fines, court costs and fees in criminal cases. The Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association has made more than $4 million off its role in the program even though it has never collected a dollar itself, an investigation by The Oklahoman found. [The Oklahoman] How Excessive Fees Lock Oklahomans Into the Criminal Justice System without Boosting State Revenue [OK Policy]

Bail ‘disrupters’ have a plan to free thousands from U.S. jails: On any given night, more than 450,000 Americans are locked up in jails, charged but not convicted of crimes. Though the nation’s cash bail system is intended to guarantee that defendants will show up for their court dates, critics say it works less as an incentive and more as a punishment inflicted disproportionately on communities of color and low-income defendants. [NBC] Bail reform should be the solution for Oklahoma’s overcrowded jails [OK Policy]

Most Oklahoma school districts don’t meet spending threshold: Gov. Mary Fallin’s call for the consolidation of services in Oklahoma school districts that spend less than 60 percent of their budget on student instruction could affect nearly 500 districts, figures provided by the governor’s office show. [The Oklahoman] Consolidating school admin functions could mean more work for teachers [Journal Record] Considering consolidation: Losing a school [OK Policy]

State wants 95 percent reduction in emergency teaching certificates: State education leaders have set a goal to reduce the number of emergency teaching certificates to under 60 within seven years, a daunting task considering the number surpassed 1,800 last week, with no sign of slowing down. [The Oklahoman]

‘We are all stretched as far as we can stretch’: Administrators react to Fallin’s executive order on school costs: School districts of all sizes were confused and angered by the intent of the executive order Gov. Mary Fallin issued Tuesday. And multiple district administrators questioned the meaning of a key phrase in that order: What exactly is the definition of an “instructional expenditure”? [Tulsa World] Oklahoma’s public schools have relatively low administration costs [OK Policy]

Introducing the 2017 OK Policy Holiday Gift Guide: We have something to confess upfront: this gift guide is entirely books. We’re nerds (also, the jury’s still out on which smart watch we like best). Here at OK Policy, the annual holiday book exchange is a hotly anticipated tradition, and we’re excited to share the cheer with you this year! [OK Policy]

In Legislatures and life, you get what you pay for: We are completely sympathetic with the public’s frustrations with their Legislature. The recently completed special session demonstrated amply that there are members who aren’t worth the time of day, much less $62,000 a year. That said, we’re still waiting for a rational explanation for how paying legislators less will produce a better Legislature. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“We have the opportunity to do a whole lot better than we did last time, but at the same time, I don’t think there’s going to be some magical ah-ha moment. It may, for some of them, very well dig them in deeper. I think those 32 are holding up what I believe the people who elected me sent me here to fix.”

– Sen. Greg McCortney (R-Ada) expressing skepticism that another budget special session will yield different results than the budget bill that Gov. Fallin vetoed at the end of the recently-ended special session (Source)

Number of the Day


Health care spending per inmate in Oklahoma prisons in FY 2015. The national median was $5,720

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Unsung Role That Ordinary Citizens Played in the Great Crime Decline: Most theories for the great crime decline that swept across nearly every major American city over the last 25 years have focused on the would-be criminals. But none of these explanations have paid much attention to the communities where violence plummeted the most. New research suggests that people there were working hard, with little credit, to address the problem themselves [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.

One thought on “In The Know: Lawmakers not sure another special session will fix anything

  1. Sorry, Tulsa World. The biggest embarrassment is that Mary Fallin, having played a major role in OK’s female incarceration over those 25 years, is now touted and hosted around the country by reformers [sic] as a voice to be listened to by other states. If the “reformers” really wanted to convince other states not to become OK, they’d haul around the serial nitwits like Glenn Coffee who led the charge to enrich his private corrections sponsors while leading the state Senate from his prison dependency in Lawton. Seven words into his usual justifications, the other states would run screaming from the conference and get to hard work doing exactly the opposite of whatever he did. Hauling “all hat and no cattle” Fallin out to spew her usual just covers over the silliness and meanness that got OK where it is.

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