In The Know: No budget plan in place with week remaining in legislative session

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

No budget plan in place with week remaining in legislative session: This week marks the final days of the Oklahoma legislative session, and lawmakers still do not have a budget plan in place. The House told members last week to be prepared to work throughout the weekend, including Sunday, but, lawmakers were not at the Capitol. Friday was the deadline to agree upon revenue-raising measures. Legislators did not agree upon a plan, so, starting Monday, Republicans and Democrats will engage in a concurrent special session, officials said. [KOCO] Oklahoma’s past accomplishments teach us how to build a better budget and a better future [OK Policy]

Budget compromise eludes lawmakers: Despite hours of negotiations behind closed doors, House Republicans and Democrats said Saturday afternoon that they appeared no closer to reaching a budget compromise. With less than week left to pass a balanced budget, House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, and House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, indicated that budget talks had collapsed again amid the ongoing disagreement about how to raise revenue to fill an $878 million shortfall. [CNHI] Amid budget deadlock, a reminder of what’s at stake [OK Policy]

Restore the oil, gas production tax: As a long-time resident of the great state of Oklahoma, I care passionately about our children and the vulnerable citizens in our state. I understand it is a difficult decision to decide how to raise OK revenue but what the House leadership (with the governor’s support) proposed includes a significant tax on the lower and middle income Oklahomans with little impact on the wealthy oil and gas companies. [Carolynn MacAllister/Stillwater News Press] How much new revenue will ending oil and gas tax breaks bring in? [OK Policy]

Dueling protests debate oil production tax rate in Oklahoma: It was dueling tax protesters day Thursday at the state Capitol. About 200 state employees and educators showed up to the morning to push for a flat 7 percent tax on oil and gas production, wearing stickers that said “Save our State.” It didn’t take long for the oil and gas industry to answer back. Industry supporters showed up en masse Thursday afternoon, carrying signs that said things like, “Oil Votes Too,” and “25 percent of Oklahoma’s Revenue is from Oil and Gas.” [The Oklahoman

Racial disparity is the great moral issue of our time in Tulsa: We have to acknowledge that a divide exists in our city. We can’t work to address it until we acknowledge it exists. We have a long way to go as a city when there is a 10-year life expectancy disparity between the most predominantly African-American part of our city and the rest of our city. We have a long way to go as a city when one part of our city is synonymous with an entire race. We have a long way to go as a city when people keep expecting lawlessness from African-Americans in response to an incident or a verdict. [Mayor G.T. Bynum/Tulsa World]

Desperate times call for leadership and compromise: It is often said that desperate times call for desperate measures. In our case, desperate times call for legislative leadership and compromise. Great leaders look beyond their immediate circumstances and focus on what is necessary for long-term prosperity. And that is precisely what we need if we are to survive this budgetary crisis. [Alan Armstrong, Jeff Dunn, Phil Albert, Steve Bradshaw/Tulsa World] On revenue options, the right choice is “All of the Above” [OK Policy]

Policy issues await final week of regular legislative session at Oklahoma Capitol: Oklahoma lawmakers are heading into their final week of regular session. While it’s likely that Gov. Mary Fallin will call a special session to pass revenue and a budget, the Oklahoma Constitution requires the Legislature to finish its regular business by May 26 this year. Aside from figuring out how to raise money and spend it, there are several policy issues that have been left unresolved. Namely, one of Fallin’s most signature issues, criminal justice reform. [The Oklahoman] Justice Reform Task Force recommendations could be the solution Oklahoma desperately needs [OK Policy]

Oklahoma lawmaker seeks help advancing justice reform measures: Frustrated by a lack of legislative action on criminal justice reform bills, state Rep. Bobby Cleveland announced Friday that he plans to ask House Speaker Charles McCall to reassign the bills to his House Public Safety Committee so they can get a hearing. [The Oklahoman]  Misguided budget concerns are endangering criminal justice reform [OK Policy]

Empowering voters to engage their Reps.: Information is power, and the League of Women Voters is geared toward empowering people to engage in decisions that impact their lives. On Saturday, the League turned to Kara Joy McKee — one-time Norman Human Rights Award recipient, graduate of the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Policy Institute’s outreach specialist — for more input on how to better deliver their message and reach out to the next generation of league members. [Norman Transcript]

Trump’s budget proposal includes huge cuts to food stamps: President Donald Trump’s budget would drive millions of people off of food stamps, part of a new wave of spending cut proposals that already are getting panned by lawmakers in both parties on Capitol Hill. Trump’s blueprint for the 2018 budget year comes out Tuesday. It includes a wave of cuts to benefit programs such as Medicaid, federal employee pensions, welfare benefits and farm subsidies. [Associated Press] SNAP is working to feed Oklahoma’s Children [OK Policy]

Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship expanded under new law: More students can enroll in Oklahoma’s Promise under a new law that increases the family income limit for eligibility and expands the tuition scholarship to include more CareerTech programs. Gov. Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 529 this week. [The Oklahoman] Bill to expand eligibility for Oklahoma’s Promise scholarships a win for all Oklahomans [OK Policy]

Tulsa response to police shooting, verdict a model for other cities: In its story about the not-guilty verdict handed down in the case of Tulsa police Officer Betty Shelby, The New York Times noted that Shelby’s fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher last year “did not lead to the level of anger and scrutiny that some other police shootings have drawn.” We credited that at the time to the actions of city leaders and others — and we salute them again today for a mostly low-key and constructive reaction to the verdict involving a white officer and a black victim. [Editorial Board/The Oklahoman]

Advocates say second mistake in child sex abuse bill shields employers: A law scheduled to go into effect this November would make it harder to sue Oklahoma employers for negligence if their employee sexually abuses a child. The bill signed into law this month raises the standard for those civil lawsuits from general negligence to gross negligence, a change that some attorneys believe is unfair to victims of child sexual abuse. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma unemployment rate stays flat in April: March and April were very much the same for Oklahoma’s economy as the state’s jobless rate in April remained at 4.3 percent, continuing to rest below the national average of 4.4 percent. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said in a news release Friday that the state had lost about 2,500 jobs over the past year. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“We would love to be able to just roll up a bus — and have paid leave — to come up here and advocate on behalf of their services. State employees to do this have to take their own annual leave and leave their work site. You very well can’t do that at a prison, and DHS is so understaffed like a lot of agencies. They can’t absorb the caseload. We’re advocating on behalf of restoring the 7 percent gross production tax. It’s part of the shared funding to restore core services, including education and the Department of Corrections.”

– Tom Dunning, communications director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association and a representative of Save our State, speaking about employees of the oil and gas industry’s lobbying efforts at the state capitol last week (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of office-based physicians in Oklahoma accepting new Medicaid patients, significantly above the national average (69%), 2013.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why U.S. Criminal Courts Are So Dependent on Plea Bargaining: Shondel Church was arrested in Kansas City, Missouri, last July, accused of stealing a generator and a tool box from his stepmother. He sat in Lafayette County Jail for six weeks before his first conversation with a public defender, Matthew Gass. Gass was reportedly hopeful that he could win the case at trial, but explained that the intensity of his workload meant he would need six months to prepare—six months during which Church would remain jailed. As a father of four and his family’s primary breadwinner, Church felt he couldn’t wait that long and instead pled guilty to a misdemeanor. He received two years of probation and a $2,600 bill for his stay in pretrial detention. [The Atlantic]

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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.

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