In 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.
Tax breaks for Oklahoma oil and gas production will result in $516 million less in state revenues in this fiscal year. The cost of the oil and gas tax breaks is some $130 million greater than what state officials projected back in February, a few months before the Legislature voted to make most of the multi-million dollar tax breaks permanent. Oil services company Baker Hughes Inc. says it will lay off about 7,000 workers, possibly including hundreds in northeast Oklahoma, even as the company is reporting record revenues.
New state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has fired two more key members of Janet Barresi’s leadership team. The Tulsa school board is set to hold final interviews later this week with candidates to replace retiring superintendent Keith Ballard. The final two candidates are Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist and former Tulsa Deputy Superintendent Millard House II. At a panel hosted by the Oklahoma Coalition Against High-Stakes Testing, Rep. Katie Henke said parents possess the most clout in the growing fight over the use of high-stakes tests in public education.
On the OK Policy Blog, our research fellow Michael Thomas examined how investing in higher education contributes to economic growth. A state lawmaker has filed a measure to allow offenders convicted of crimes requiring them to serve 85 percent of a sentence to begin earning credits toward early release at the beginning of their sentence, though the credits would not change the 85 percent requirement. This reform was originally part of Oklahoma’s justice reinvestment bill and has been repeatedly requested by state corrections officers as a tool to improve their safety, but lawmakers have voted it down for the past two years. For the second straight year, Tulsa claimed the award for the best tasting water at a regional conference.
A Chickasha lawmaker has filed a bill targeting automated political calls. Candidate filing begins Monday for a special election in state Senate District 11 to replace Sen. Jabar Shumate, who resigned to become state director of private school voucher advocacy organization. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s latest budget proposal cuts about $127.4 million from state support to local school districts. The Number of the Day is the annual income level at which a family of 3 makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, Vox has a guide to the policies proposed by President Obama at last night’s State of the Union address.
In The News
Oklahoma tax incentives for oil and gas production continue to be debated
Tax incentives on production from Oklahoma oil and gas companies will result in $516 million less in state revenues in this fiscal year, the Oklahoma Policy Institute said Tuesday. The institute, which opposed changes to gross production tax rates approved during last year’s legislative session, said its projections show the state will miss out on $379 million in revenue due to incentives for horizontal drilling in fiscal year 2015.
One-year price tag for oil and gas tax breaks to exceed $500 million
The cost of tax breaks for the oil and gas industry will exceed $500 million this year, according to projections recently released by the Oklahoma Tax Commission. This is substantially more than the projections made a year ago, reflecting the growing shift of production to minimally-taxed horizontal wells. The tax break for horizontal production alone is now estimated at a whopping $379 million for FY 2015.
Baker Hughes to lay off 7,000 workers while announcing record revenues
Oil services company Baker Hughes Inc. says it will lay off about 7,000 workers as it prepares for a downturn in orders. It was not known how many of the layoffs will come from the company’s operations in northeastern Oklahoma, where Baker Hughes employs hundreds of people in Claremore, Broken Arrow, Sand Springs and Barnsdall.
New Oklahoma schools chief fires three more members of Janet Barresi’s staff
New state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has fired two more key members of Janet Barresi’s leadership team, bringing to six the number of state Education Department executives and staff she has terminated since taking office Jan. 12. A spokesman for Hofmeister on Tuesday confirmed the departure of Lisa Chandler, director of assessments, and Jeff Downs, executive director of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Tulsa school board zeroing in on two candidates for superintendent’s post
The Tulsa school board is set to hold final interviews later this week with Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist and former Tulsa Deputy Superintendent Millard House II, multiple sources confirm. The board’s search for a successor to Superintendent Keith Ballard, who is retiring June 30, has occurred largely behind closed doors in executive sessions.
Parents hold power in high-stakes testing debate, state Rep. Katie Henke and educators say
Parents possess the most clout in the growing fight over the use of high-stakes tests in public education. That was the common message at a panel discussion Tuesday evening featuring State Rep. Katie Henke, R-Tulsa, Jenks Middle School Principal Rob Miller, and two teachers and a mother of two from Tulsa’s Skelly Elementary School.
Higher Education: A sound investment towards Oklahoma’s economic prosperity
The vitality of higher education is a fundamental and increasingly important determinant of a nation’s position in the world economy. Oklahoma is no stranger to this concept. In 2008, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education contracted with Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) to analyze the economic contribution of Oklahoma’s higher education system on the state’s economy.”
Bills target inmate behavior, prison crowding
A state lawmaker has filed a measure aimed at improving the behavior of inmates. Sen. Wayne Shaw, R-Grove, is the author of Senate Bill 112. The measure would allow those offenders convicted of crimes requiring them to serve 85 percent of a sentence to begin earning credits toward early release at the beginning of their sentence as opposed to the end.
Drinking From The Tap: Tulsa’s Award-Winning Water
For the second straight year, Tulsa claimed the award for the best tasting water at a regional conference, making it okay to put down the bottled water and drink it out of the tap. Many people think that bottled water is cleaner, more pure, and taste better than tap water.
Oklahoma lawmaker’s bill targets political robo-calls
A Chickasha lawmaker has filed a bill targeting automated political calls. House Bill 1038 would remove the exemption for automated political calls on the state’s No Call List. While the language appears to remove the exemption for all political calls, Rep. David Perryman, D-Chickasha, said his intent is to target automated calls.
Candidate Filing Begins for Special State Senate Election
The secretary of the state Election Board says candidate filing for a special election in state Senate District 11 is set to begin. Filing begins Monday for the election to fill the unexpired term of Democratic former state Sen. Jabar Shumate of Tulsa. He resigned earlier this month to become state director of The American Federation for Children.
Kansas’ support to school districts will be cut $127.4 million
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed budget cuts about $127.4 million from state support to local school districts, according to a report released Tuesday by the state Department of Education. Some Senate Republican leaders dispute that the cut is that deep, saying the Education Department figure doesn’t account for spending on bonds and interest for school construction or payments to the state retirement fund. The governor’s plan, released Friday, is to roll four major categories of spending into block grants to school districts.
Quote of the Day
“Any way you look at it, that’s a whole bunch of money.”
-OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt, speaking about new data showing that Oklahoma’s tax breaks for oil and gas production will cost $516 million this year alone (Source: bit.ly/1E0F4yu)
Number of the Day
Annual income level at which a family of 3 makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid in Oklahoma.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation.
A guide to the policies Obama mentioned in the 2015 State of the Union
The State of the Union is really two speeches in one. First, it’s a description of where the country is at this moment in time. But second — and more importantly — it lays out the president’s agenda to address the nation’s most serious problems. In this post, Vox has pulled apart those two threads of the speech: this are the policy proposals Obama laid out — both what he said, and what the underlying policy would do.
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