In The Know: State officials project $171 million general revenue decline next year

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that state officials are projecting that the Legislature will have $170.8 million less revenue to appropriate next year, a 2.4 percent drop. A revenue drop is expected even after the new revenue from the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a tax cut and capitol repairs bill. A survey found that Oklahoma’s ratio of correctional officers to offenders is the worst in the nation, and average starting pay for correctional officers is the third lowest.

A fight to build more storm shelters in schools is heading to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Oklahoma Watch shared data chronicling the silent march of suicide in Oklahoma. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed why Washington’s fixation on deficit reduction is misguided while the economy still struggles to grow and create jobs.

The OK Policy Blog shows why if Oklahoma continues to reject federal health care dollars, it will mean a huge tax transfer to Washington. More than $100 million in construction projects at Tinker Air Force Base and Altus Air Force Base would get the green light under a defense bill advancing in the U.S. Senate. Two U.S. House Democrats called for a hearing on whether earthquakes in Oklahoma and other states are being caused by activities related to oil and gas drilling.

The Number of the Day is how many Oklahoma children per 1,000 reside in foster care. In today’s Policy Note, McClatchy reports about the type of insurance that is being cancelled under the Affordable Care Act — “junk insurance” policies that are of no use to anyone who actually gets sick.

In The News

State officials project $171 million general revenue decline next year

The Oklahoma Legislature is projected to have about $170.8 million less revenue available to appropriate for next fiscal year than it appropriated for the current fiscal year, state Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger announced Wednesday. That would be a 2.4 percent cut and set the stage for tough budget negotiations. State employees already are pushing for a pay increase and state government officials previously committed to trying to fund multimillion child welfare reforms as part of a settlement to a class-action lawsuit.

Read more from NewsOK.

Staff, pay at state prisons rank low

The state’s ratio of correctional officers to offenders is the worst among at least 49 states and more than twice the national average, according to a survey released by the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals. Figures for Maryland correctional officer staffing ratios were not available, according to the survey. Meanwhile, the average starting pay for a correctional officer is nearly $4 more than what Oklahoma officers earn, according to the survey. Oklahoma has one officer for every 11.7 inmates, the survey found. The national average is 5.5, according to the survey.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Fight to bring storm shelters to schools heads to Oklahoma Supreme Court

A fight to build more storm shelters in schools heads to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. During oral arguments on Wednesday, organizers of Take Shelter Oklahoma argued that the state attorney general derailed the process by writing biased ballot language. The group argues the attorney generals’ ballot language, which emphasized that franchise tax money would be diverted from the general fund, confused voters and cost them signatures. The AG’s office claims it merely attempted to inform voters about how the shelters would be financed.

Read more from KFOR.

The silent march of suicide

On most days in Oklahoma, one to six people kill themselves. In 2013, through mid-December, 576 people committed suicide in the state, more than twice as many as the 239 who died in homicides. Homicides get all of the headlines and news footage. Suicides take place invisibly, cloaked in shame, fear of intruding on privacy, fear of inspiring others to take their own lives. Mental-health experts, however, call out almost in anguish for more attention to be paid to the problem, especially in a state with one of the nation’s highest suicide rates.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Prosperity Policy: Job One

Some conservative organizations and legislators criticize the bipartisan budget deal reached this month by congressional leaders for not doing enough to cut spending and reduce the deficit. Republican U.S. Reps. Jim Bridenstine and Markwayne Mullin voted against the bill in the House, and Republican U.S. Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe are expected to do likewise. The deficit hard-liners miss two crucial points. The first is the extent to which Congress has already succeeded in bringing down the deficit. The second is that a fixation on deficit reduction is misguided while the economy still struggles to grow and create jobs.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Rejecting Medicaid expansion would mean huge tax transfer to Washington

Oklahomans will pay $1.2 billion per year in federal taxes and get nothing in return if the state refuses to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income adults, according to a new study by the Commonwealth Fund. The Affordable Care Act extends Medicaid coverage to all individuals up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Currently in Oklahoma, working-age adults are eligible for Medicaid only if they are parents of dependent children and have incomes below 37 percent of the poverty level. Oklahoma’s current limit leaves out hundreds of thousands of working poor Oklahomans, including large numbers of retail, restaurant, and construction workers.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Defense bill OKs more than $100 million for two Air Force bases in Oklahoma

More than $100 million in construction projects at Tinker Air Force Base and Altus Air Force Base would get the green light under the defense bill advanced Thursday by the U.S. Senate. A major portion of the proposed construction would be in preparation for the Air Force’s new aerial refueling tanker, the KC-46A. Altus will host pilot training for the plane, while Tinker’s repair depot will maintain the engines and airframe.

Read more from NewsOK.

Democrats want hearing on whether earthquakes are linked to fracking

Two House Democrats called Wednesday for a hearing on whether earthquakes in Oklahoma and other states are being caused by activities related to hydraulic fracturing. Reps. Peter DeFazio, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, and Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said the two panels should hold a joint hearing to study the increase of seismic activity in areas that had previously been inactive and “the potential regulatory gaps in current law that put people and property at risk from man-made earthquakes.”

Read more from NewsOK.

Quote of the Day

State leaders are failing us. We are asking too much of our heroic corrections employees, many of whom are now working mandatory 60 hours a week, and it is going to get someone killed.

-Sean Wallace, executive director of Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, who released a survey showing Oklahoma’s correctional officer to offender ratio is the worst in the nation, and they have the 3rd lowest average starting pay (Source:

Number of the Day


The number of Oklahoma children per 1,000 who reside in foster care, compared to 5 children per 1,000 overall nationally.

Source:  National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect via CAP

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

‘Junk insurance’ comes back to haunt its policyholders

April Capil has mixed feelings about the national outcry over canceled health insurance policies. Five years free of the stage III breast cancer that nearly claimed her life, the Boulder, Colo., resident is once again healthy, but she’s still struggling to put her life back together. Like millions of Americans, Capil thought she had solid individual health insurance. Then she got sick and found that her coverage was woefully inadequate. The financial problems that followed would aggravate Capil’s health struggles, force her into bankruptcy and trigger a fraud lawsuit over $230,000 in unpaid medical bills against HealthMarkets Inc., the parent company of her former insurer.

Read from the Kansas City Star.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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