In The Know: ‘This is literally it’: State lawmakers build new budget plan after Senate pushes to add gross production tax hike to proposal

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

‘This is literally it’: State lawmakers build new budget plan after Senate pushes to add gross production tax hike to proposal: The Oklahoma State Senate sent a message to the House on Thursday. Translated, it read “Let’s get on with it already.” In a remarkable if not unprecedented move, the Senate approved by voice vote a resolution calling on the House, which must originate revenue bills, to put an increase in the gross production tax into the package that failed the House on Wednesday, and to pass the whole thing immediately [Tulsa World]. Lawmakers must use special session to fix the budget, not pass the buck [OK Policy].  The new budget proposal, which includes raising the gross production tax to 4 percent on new wells, appears to be the best possible outcome under the circumstances [OK Policy].

Oklahoma cut taxes. Now a squeeze on public services forces a rethink: As past president of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, an industry body that his father helped to create, Dewey Bartlett Jr. is a familiar voice in policy debates. So when he began calling this year for higher state taxes on oil producers to help fund cash-strapped public services, Oklahomans sat up and listened. “I came out of the closet,” jokes Mr. Bartlett, a two-time Republican mayor of this city, once called the Oil Capital of the World [Christian Science Monitor]. Amid budget deadlock, a reminder of what’s at stake [OK Policy].

Tulsa’s growing homeless population pushes downtown shelters beyond capacity: Downtown shelters are struggling to keep up with the rising number of homeless people using their services in Tulsa. The city’s homeless population is a fluctuating number that’s edged upward in recent years, but John 3:16 Mission CEO Steve Whitaker said he’s noticed a real uptick at the mission since this summer. …The John 3:16 Mission typically doesn’t see large crowds until the winter, when the building at Easton Street and Cheyenne Avenue fills up as people try to escape the cold [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma commission reacts to President Trump’s opioid crisis declaration: President Donald Trump declared opioid abuse a national public health emergency on Thursday. He announced steps to combat what he called the worst drug crisis in U.S. history. “It is time to liberate our communities from the scourge of drug addiction,” said President Trump. The epidemic hits close to home in Oklahoma, where 3,000 people died from opioid abuse in the past three years [FOX25].

The five justice reform myths jeopardizing public safety: While addressing the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association on Oct. 19, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions downplayed the importance of smart criminal justice reforms. Instead he outrageously claimed that the “tough-on-crime” policies of the 1980s and ’90s, which gave America the world’s largest prison population, were a “humanitarian effort” to protect vulnerable communities. Unfortunately, Sessions’ remarks doubled down on five myths that perpetuate the massive financial human costs of the criminal justice status quo [Prison Fellowship’s Craig DeRoche / NewsOK]. What works to stop crime (hint: it’s not incarceration) [OK Policy].

Oklahoma health department employees face furloughs, layoffs beginning Monday: Starting Monday, more than 1,000 Oklahoma Health Department employees will have to stay home to save the state money — and some will be out of a job early next year. The department announced in September that all employees earning more than $35,000 per year would need to take one furlough day every two weeks. The days off would cut 10 percent from affected employees twice-a-month paychecks for as long as the furlough lasts [NewsOK].

Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office opens new facility: Governor Mary Fallin toured the new state Medical Examiner’s Office, which was unveiled on Thursday. The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office has faced a laundry list of issues including rusty equipment due to poor air quality and a leaky roof, eventually leading to the agency losing their accreditation from the National Association of Medical Examiners [KFOR].

Foreclosure rates rise in OKC while falling nationwide: The number of foreclosure proceedings started in Oklahoma City in the third quarter rose by 34 percent over the same three months a year earlier, according to the Attom Data Solutions industry-tracking company. That growth rate places Oklahoma City among the nation’s biggest year-over-year changes, the company reported. It’s also counter to the average downward trend. Lenders started foreclosing on 93,724 properties across the country in the third quarter, down 16 percent from 2016 and now at the lowest rate since at least 2005 [Journal Record].

County commissioner drops out of running for mayor of Oklahoma City: Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan said Thursday he’s ending his campaign for mayor of Oklahoma City because of injuries he suffered in a traffic accident. Maughan said complications have developed related to injuries to his foot that will require an extended recovery period and likely surgery. Maughan said he will continue as county commissioner and will return his remaining campaign donations [Tulsa World].

A new Tulsa nonprofit has been quietly building a foundation for a future powerhouse of debate teams: Twelve-year-old Miguel Moreno can argue with any adult the details of the U.S. Cuban embargo with the confidence and ferocity of an attorney. On a lark and a nudge from a teacher, the Kendall-Whittier sixth-grader joined the after-school debate team this year. He found energy in the research and structure in the back-and-forth of making his points. “I already liked to argue with friends my whole life, so I thought I’d try it,” he said [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World].

What’s With All These Other DREAM Acts? As President Donald Trump pledges to roll back Obama-era protections from deportation, lawmakers are working to provide a new legal pathway to citizenship for the group of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. They hope to reimagine and reintroduce the proposed DREAM Act of 2001, before existing immigration legislation is completely dismantled. A new report from the Migration Policy Institute examines the five different legislation proposals currently in the pipeline, all of which would address the legal status of these DREAMers [CityLab]. Congress must pass the Dream Act to protect young Oklahomans and our economy [OK Policy].

US Senate Confirms Nominee for Federal Judge in Oklahoma: The U.S. Senate has confirmed a nominee for judge to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. Sens. James Lankford and Jim Inhofe say the Senate on Thursday voted 79-16 to confirm President Donald Trump’s nomination of Scott Palk to the federal bench. Palk is currently the assistant dean of students and assistant general counsel at the University of Oklahoma College of Law [AP].

Inside Scott Pruitt’s Mission to Remake the EPA: Bonnie Wirtz was tending to her Minnesota farm one summer evening in 2012 when a crop duster buzzed low overhead. The aircraft sprayed chemicals on her property, missing its target next door. Soon the fumes seeped into her home through the air conditioner, and Wirtz wound up in an emergency room, coughing and bewildered and worried about the health of her 8-month-old son [Time].

Quote of the Day

“We’ve got a problem. If we’re seeing these numbers now, then what’s it going to be during the depths of winter, when we’re going to see killer cold?”

– John 3:16 Mission CEO Steve Whitaker on the increased need for services at the Tulsa homeless shelter, which he attributes to the opioid epidemic (Source)

Number of the Day


Family income limit for students applying for full tuition college scholarships through the Oklahoma’s Promise program starting in 2017-18, the first increase since being set at $50,000 in 2000

Source: NewsOK

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why Corporate Tax Cuts Won’t Create Jobs: The tax cut framework recently put forward by President Trump relies on a central claim: that reducing taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals will open the wellsprings of entrepreneurship and investment, turbocharging job growth and the American economy. Were this premise true, reasonable people might countenance giving a vast majority of benefits to the very rich, as Mr. Trump’s plan does, in exchange for greater prosperity for all. But it’s not [The New York Times].

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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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