In The Know: ‘No budget deal’: Fallin, GOP leaders rebuff House Democratic leader’s promise of bipartisan agreement

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

‘No budget deal’: Fallin, GOP leaders rebuff House Democratic leader’s promise of bipartisan agreement: Gov. Mary Fallin on Thursday rebuffed reports that a bipartisan budget agreement had been reached. “There is no budget deal,” she said, adding that she is disappointed that more progress had not been made. Her comments came Thursday afternoon after House Minority Leader Scott Inman tried to apply pressure on Republicans to support what he said was a bipartisan budget agreement [Tulsa World]. After it was deemed unconstitutional, the cigarette tax again walks among the living at the Oklahoma Capitol — at least, for now [CNHI]. Lawmakers have good revenue options for special session if they have the will to use them [OK Policy].

Oklahoma Health Officials Warn of Dire Budget Consequences: For 66-year-old Richard Boston, an Army veteran who has been disabled for more than 20 years, Oklahoma’s Advantage program is a lifeline that allows him to continue living in his modest home in southwest Oklahoma City. The state-funded program provides volunteers who do light housework and run errands. It also gives out medical equipment like a lift chair that allows him to get in and out of the bathtub despite his bad knees and back, the result of a disabling fall he suffered during his career as a truck driver [AP]. Unimaginable potentials become imaginable, if Legislature doesn’t get busy soon [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World]. Lawmakers must use special session to fix the budget, not pass the buck [OK Policy].

Lawmakers consider zeroing out zero-emission incentives: Legislators are again considering eliminating tax incentives for electricity generated from renewable resources as one potential way to fill an estimated $215 million budget hole. State Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, said he supports the bills, but his stance on incentives is more philosophical than directed at a particular subset of the energy industry. Oil industry trade group representative Arnella Karges said she disagrees generally with early sunsets for tax credits for any industry [Journal Record]. Oklahoma’s wind subsidies are dwarfed by subsidies to the oil and gas industry [OK Policy].

Tulsa legislator’s interim study mulls high-speed rail between Tulsa and Oklahoma City: Oklahoma lawmakers are studying the cost of a high-speed rail system that would link Tulsa and Oklahoma City. An interim study sponsored by Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, was presented Tuesday to the Senate Transportation Committee, The Journal Record reported. Supporters of the rail system said it could help the state in several ways, including in alleviating road congestion, promoting healthier lifestyles and increasing the quality of life in both areas [Tulsa World].

Speakers criticize plan to put restrictions on lawmakers, state employees who want to go into lobbying: Speakers on Thursday criticized an Oklahoma Ethics Commission proposal to make lawmakers and state employees wait at least two years after leaving state service before becoming lobbyists. The Oklahoma Ethics Commission met Thursday and heard public comments, but it took no vote on the proposition. Additional informal hearings on the rule change are expected. The rule change would provide for a two-year period in which a former state officer or employee would be restricted from registering as a lobbyist, acting as a consultant for lobbying or representing the interests of a third party before the agency the state officer or employee previously served [Tulsa World].

Hofmeister: Expect student test scores to be lower as new standards kick in: Oklahoma public schools are about to get their first look at results from new tests aligned to the state’s new academic standards, and Joy Hofmeister has a warning for teachers, parents and the public: “The scores will drop, so just be ready.” Speaking Thursday at the Tulsa Regional Chamber, the state superintendent of public schools said Oklahoma had “manipulated” its passing scores — called “cut scores” — to falsely inflate indicators of student academic achievement for years [Tulsa World].

Putnam City mom outraged over claims of lunch room waste: Students going hungry and food being wasted: those are the concerns of a parent in the Putnam City School District. Crystal Timm tells us she was outraged Tuesday when her two sons came home from school at Putnam City West and told her some of their peers in the free or reduced lunch program were being forced to throw their lunches away. …The district confirms that some students’ lunches were taken away, but Chief Communications Officer Steve Lindley says they were not thrown away [FOX25]. Hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans don’t have consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle [OK Policy].

Homeless In College: Five Students, Five Stories: One turned to crime. A second quit college. The third moves from place to place. The fourth is trying to help. And the fifth has built a better life. Five different people with a unique story and a common thread; each has struggled to attend college while being homeless. In Oklahoma, the homeless often go unnoticed. They live in the shadows. They stand on street corners, holding cardboard signs and asking for money. For the homeless, food and shelter are scarce and often nonexistent [KOSU].

District attorneys ignore alternative courts’ potential: Tulsa County’s alternative treatment courts have proven themselves effective at reducing incarceration in the county jail and state prisons for nonviolent offenders with serious mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders. Extremely low recidivism rates are what taxpayers dream of when they think about how best to use scarce public resources. Oklahomans have seen the data, and they like what they see: Witness last year’s overwhelming voter support for State Questions 780 and 781, which sought to universalize alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenders [Kevin Burr / Tulsa World].

Oklahoma oil fields attract private equity: Billions of dollars of private equity money has flooded into Oklahoma oil fields, sparking drilling, pipeline and support projects throughout the state, speakers said Thursday at Gov. Mary Fallin’s Energy Investment Luncheon. The private equity emphasis is both a function of the general equity markets and the age of development of the state’s oil fields, said Jason McMahon, upstream investments partner at Encap Investments [NewsOK].

Center aims to change worldview on addiction: Six years ago, four people met to discuss what they could do to fight the opioid epidemic ravaging the state — and, in some cases, their own families. Kelly Dyer Fry, editor of The Oklahoman, and Oklahoma lawyer Reggie Whitten had both watched a child struggle with addiction. Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Terri White and Dr. Murali Krishna, co-founder of the James L. Hall Center for Mind Body and Spirit at Integris, had made improving brain health their lives’ work. Thursday morning, the four met again, to break ground on the facility first envisioned in conversations around a dinner table [NewsOK].

Peek inside Tulsa County’s finances and more with its new online ‘OpenGov’ feature: Want to know how much Tulsa County spent last month, and on what? How many people work in the Sheriff’s Office? What does the county’s “checkbook” show? A new cloud-based feature that went live this week on Tulsa County’s website,, provides the answers and a good deal more. “This effort is important for both our residents and staff,” said Tulsa County Clerk Michael Willis. “Our OpenGov platform is a powerful addition to our existing web resources. It makes our budget and financial information easy to view and consume for taxpayers and county officials alike.” [Tulsa World]

How Controversy And Current Events Become Critical Curriculum In Some Oklahoma Classrooms: Polls suggest this is one of the the most politically divided moments in American history. There are now tip sheets on how to survive Thanksgiving without disowning your family, and the comment sections of online news articles are full of vitriol. Schools are not immune to the tension, but not everyone thinks that’s a bad thing. Some Oklahoma teachers, like Rhonda Hlavaty, are actually asking their students to discuss controversial topics in class [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Quote of the Day

“If there is only one person at the altar, there is no marriage. There is your quote of the day.”

– Governor Fallin, dispelling rumors that a budget deal had been reached after Minority Leader Scott Inman announced that his caucus would support elements of a plan Fallin had presented last week (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma children in poverty in 2016, the 11th-highest rate in the U.S.

Source: FRAC

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Payday Lending Faces Tough New Restrictions by Consumer Agency: A federal agency on Thursday imposed tough new restrictions on so-called payday lending, dealing a potentially crushing blow to an industry that churns out billions of dollars a year in high-interest loans to working-class and poor Americans. The rules announced by the agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, are likely to sharply curtail the use of payday loans, which critics say prey on the vulnerable through their huge fees. Currently, a cash-strapped customer might borrow $400 from a payday lender. The loan would be due two weeks later — plus $60 in interest and fees. That is the equivalent of an annual interest rate of more than 300 percent, far higher than what banks and credit cards charge for loans [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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