In The Know: Oklahoma revenue collections fall 18 percent below estimate

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

Oklahoma revenue collections fall 18 percent below estimate: State finance officials delivered more bad news Tuesday about Oklahoma’s economy, reporting that collections to the state’s main operating fund missed the official estimate last month by 18 percent. Overall collections to the General Revenue Fund in February totaled $225.6, which is $49.4 million below the official estimate used to build the budget for the current fiscal year that ends June 30. Collections were more than 25 percent below those from February 2015 [Associated Press].

Senate approves $78.5M withdrawal from Rainy Day Fund: The state Senate has approved a $78.5 million withdrawal from the Rainy Day Fund for education and corrections. Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders announced a deal last week to send $51 million to the Department of Education and another $27.5 million to ease cutbacks in the prison system. Both agencies requested supplemental appropriations in the face of midyear budget cuts caused by a revenue failure. Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman said the original plan was to approve the bills this week, though that won’t happen [Journal Record].

Oklahoma’s Proposed Medicaid Cut Won’t Pass Federal Muster: Oklahoma’s Senate is considering legislation, which its House passed last week, to end Medicaid coverage for 110,000 very low-income parents. But even if Oklahoma enacts the legislation, federal officials almost certainly won’t grant the needed federal approval to move forward. By federal law, states must provide Medicaid coverage to parents who would have been eligible for cash assistance in 1996 under the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children program, which the welfare law of that year replaced with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [OK Policy].

Some Oklahoma oil, gas execs want to end wind tax credits: Some oil and gas executives, including Continental Resources’ Harold Hamm, are embarking on a campaign to end Oklahoma’s tax incentives for wind generation, saying the state can’t afford to subsidize a now-established industry as it faces a $1.3 billion shortfall. The group, which calls itself the Windfall Coalition, said ending the state tax incentives and instituting a production tax credit for wind would level the playing field and spur more natural gas use by utilities for electricity generation. Oklahoma added more than 1,400 megawatts of wind capacity in 2015 [NewsOK].

Senate passes bill that involves judges in mental-health care: Legislation named for slain Labor Commissioner Mark Costello that would help mentally ill people stay in treatment made it unanimously through the Oklahoma Senate. House Bill 1697 would allow doctors or family members to recommend court-assisted treatment for people who are under outpatient mental health treatment. An author of the measure, state Sen. A.J. Griffin, said current law only lets the court monitor treatment for someone who was just released from jail or an inpatient treatment center. “It means they appear before the court and report on their compliance with their treatment,” Griffin said after the bill passed Tuesday [Journal Record].

Insurance Commissioner requests his department stop receiving state funds: The Oklahoma Insurance Department has requested that they no longer receive state funding. Insurance Commissioner John Doak made the request in a letter to Governor Mary Fallin Monday as the state faces a budget crisis. “We certainly want to do everything we can to help with the massive shortfall. Since my office has the ability to operate on the licensing fees we collect, it only makes sense for our appropriation to go elsewhere.” Doak said [Fox 25].

Oklahoma Historical Society to furlough workers due to cuts: The Oklahoma Historical Society will give each of its 123 employees two days off without pay because of budget cuts. OHS director Bob Blackburn says the furloughs are a last resort after the agency has had about $1.3 million in funding cuts since last year. Statewide budget cuts were ordered as revenue fell short of projections and the state currently faces a $1.3 billion shortfall [Associated Press].

Some lawmakers pushing to stop new state education standards: Some lawmakers met with colleagues at the Capitol Tuesday to talk about the proposed education standards in Oklahoma. They’re hoping to keep the new standards from passing. The State Board of Education presented the legislature with the “Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics” on the first day of the session. That started a 30-day countdown in which it had to be voted on or it passes automatically. The window ends March 23 [Fox 25].

Your State Needs You!: Many ask me if, looking back, I have regrets about running for governor of Oklahoma in 2014. The truth is I have none because I served as a voice for issues which needed to be discussed during that time. When the majority of those who showed up to the polls voted, they chose Gov. Mary Fallin to represent them for another four years, but I know I made a difference in championing causes, many of which still need heroes. The sad part for me was not that I lost the race, but that so few people participated in our election and the many others on the ballot that day in November [Joe Dorman / Oklahoma Observer].

‘Right to farm’ amendment causes turmoil in ag, environmental groups: With a statewide vote scheduled for later this year and a lawsuit filed to keep it off the ballot, State Question 777 seems destined to cause turbulence before meeting its ultimate fate. SQ 777, known as the “Right to Farm” amendment, is sowing friction between Oklahoma’s agricultural and environmental interests, and there seems scant room for compromise. First introduced by Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, SQ 777 is scheduled to appear on the Nov. 8, 2016, state ballot for consideration by the voters [Tahlequah Daily Press].

Business owners urge Kansas House committee to raise their taxes, end LLC loophole: The ghosts of tax debates past were reanimated Tuesday afternoon as the Kansas House Committee on Taxation reconsidered an exemption for limited liability corporations. In 2012, the Legislature passed and Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law legislation removing taxes on pass-through business income, money that passes from a limited liability corporation to the LLC’s owner [Topeka Capital-Journal].

Oklahoma City approves agreement for stalled Indian museum: Oklahoma City officials agreed Tuesday to accept an agreement with the state of Oklahoma to complete and operate the unfinished American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. But officials cautioned that completion of the 173,000-square-foot structure is still at least four years away. Construction is set to resume in June and the structure is not scheduled to be fully operational until 2020, said Blake Wade, executive director of the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority [Associated Press].

Quote of the Day

“It bears repeating that the most responsible way out of this is by adding stable, recurring revenues into the next budget as the governor proposed and is actively discussing with Legislature.”

-Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger, speaking on General Revenue Fund collections that were 18 percent below projections in February (Source)

Number of the Day


Percent of Oklahoma households that used high-cost, high-risk forms of credit (such as payday loans) to make ends meet in 2013, the highest in the nation

Source: Center for American Progress

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Texas prisons are filling up with the old and the ill — at enormous expense: Benito Alonzo is a short, 140-pound 80-year-old. His quiet-spoken manner, drooping jowls and gray hair, trimmed in a buzz, give him the appearance of a benevolent grandfather, and indeed, he is a grandfather. In thick-framed black eyeglasses, he bears a resemblance to the defanged and aging Henry Kissinger. But Alonzo is neither a celebrity nor a statesman. He’s a convict who has lately grown infirm [Texas Observer].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

One thought on “In The Know: Oklahoma revenue collections fall 18 percent below estimate

  1. Is it not for the top elected official’s to start looking at pay cuts? So many have made sacrifice if not lost jobs.

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