In The Know: Oklahoma’s average sales tax rate fifth-highest in nation

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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that Oklahoma’s average state and local sales tax rate is the fifth-highest in the nation, according to a report released Tuesday by the Tax Foundation. Oklahoma’s unemployment rate was 5.2 percent in January, down slightly from 5.4 percent in December. OETA reported on the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in Oklahoma. OK Policy shared a fact sheet dispelling myths about the problem.

On the OK Policy Blog, Ryan Gentzler writes about efforts by lawmakers to stop the development of wind energy in Eastern Oklahoma. A bill passed by the Senate ould put a moratorium on wind farm development on the east side of the state until 2017. Oklahoma is expected to add 28,000 students by 2022, a 4 percent change from 2012.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court created a new Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission, charged with developing policies for expanding access to the courts and civil justice for low-income Oklahomans. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and an oil and gas industry lobbying group filed a lawsuit against the federal government over endangered species regulations. The Senate passed a bill encouraging the reuse of wastewater to augment municipal water supplies.

In a new “Spend to Save” series, the Tulsa World is examining ways that Oklahoma can invest now to save money over the long-term. The first article in the series discusses improving birth control access and sex education to reduce the state’s high teen pregnancy rate. Dr. Stephen Crawford wrote that plans by the Legislature to move Medicaid to privatized managed care plans would undo a successful patient-centered medical home system for a model that’s already failed in the state.

The Number of the Day is Oklahoma’s estimated corporate income tax revenue losses due to offshore tax havens in 2011. The Health Care Blog discussed results of a survey on what millenials want from the health care system.

In The News

Report: Oklahoma’s average sales tax rate fifth-highest in nation

Oklahoma’s average state and local sales tax rate is the fifth-highest in the nation, according to a report released Tuesday by the Tax Foundation. The state’s average combined state and local sales tax rate is 8.72 percent, according to the report, higher than any surrounding state except Arkansas.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma unemployment rate inches downward

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate was 5.2 percent in January, down slightly from 5.4 percent in December, according to data released Monday by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. The state’s unemployment rate continued to remain somewhat lower than the national rate of 6.6 percent in January.

Read more from NewsOK.

Bill attempts to address prescription drug abuse

It’s estimated 300,000 Oklahomans are addicted to prescription drugs and the vast majority get them from a doctor or someone they know. A bill advancing through the legislature would require all licensed prescribers to check a data base to see if a patient is doctor shopping before writing a prescription for narcotics.

Watch the video from OETA.

See also: Prescription drug abuse in Oklahoma fact sheet from Oklahoma Policy Institute

Wind power in Eastern Oklahoma: Not in my backyard?

Elected representatives of all stripes are eager to make known their support for an “all of the above” energy policy, taking advantage of nonrenewable fuels like oil and natural gas while expanding the use of renewable sources of energy like wind and solar power. Oklahoma has done well at making this a reality: despite its deserved reputation as an oil state, wind power comprised nearly 15 percent of the energy generated in Oklahoma last year, a figure that is seventh best in the country. Unfortunately, the progress that has been made on this front is being threatened.

Read more from the OK Policy blog.

Projection: the Tide of Students Will Keep Rising

Oklahoma is expected to add 28,000 students by 2022, according to data released by the National Center for Education Statistics. The growth reflects a 4 percent change from 2012, when the state had roughly 669,000 students, according to the report released last month. The report projects Oklahoma will come in 31st in terms of percentage of student growth compared with the rest of the nation. Nevada, the fastest-growing state in the country last decade, is expected to be first with a 17.8 percent increase. Seven states are expected to shrink. Advocates for more education funding in Oklahoma often point to student growth as a reason more money is needed, so the state can maintain or grow its per-student spending and keep up with inflation.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

More access to justice

A new Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission has been created by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. It is charged with developing policies for expanding access to the courts and enhancing the quality of justice in civil matters for low-income Oklahomans. “Many low-income Oklahomans are unable to receive full representation on civil legal matters,” the court said in an order signed by Chief Justice Tom Colbert. “Inadequate funding and well-intentioned but uncoordinated efforts stand in the way of a fully integrated civil legal-services delivery system.”

Read more from the Journal Record.

Oklahoma AG and Energy Group Sue U.S. Government Over Endangered Species Settlements.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance on Monday filed a lawsuit against the federal government, accusing the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of “colluding” with environmental groups to bypass public rule-making procedures to enact endangered species regulations. The lawsuit is Pruitt’s latest salvo against so-called “sue and settle” techniques, wherein agencies are accused of reaching friendly settlements of lawsuits filed by special-interest groups.

Read more from StateImpact.

Oklahoma Senate passes water reuse legislation

A portion of Norman’s wastewater could be shifted from the Canadian River to a tributary that feeds Lake Thunderbird in the not-so-distant future. Recently, legislation encouraging reuse and requiring the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to respond promptly to reuse applications was passed unanimously by the Oklahoma Senate.

Read more from the Norman Transcript.

Birth control, condoms at schools could reduce teen pregnancy rate, expert says

A local expert on social issues says Oklahoma has its head in the sand when it comes to addressing the state’s teen pregnancy rate, and one solution she proposes is the distribution of condoms and birth control in schools. “Start now with comprehensive health education in the schools beginning in kindergarten through 12th grade teaching children about health and hygiene,” said Jan Figart, associate director at the Community Service Council of Tulsa. “Oklahoma is the last state in the U.S. without such curriculum.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Dr. Steven A. Crawford: Don’t go backward on Medicaid plans

The Legislature is considering a major change in the way health care is delivered to many Oklahomans. As chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and a member of the committee since 1995, I have seen the evolution of the program that serves Oklahoma’s Medicaid population. I observed the dissolution of private-managed Medicaid in Oklahoma because it was a program that could not succeed here financially.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Quote of the Day

“In Oklahoma, we’re not talking about sex, only to say not to do it. We forget these are kids and kids are known to be dumb and make bad decisions. We need to talk about birth control, how to use it and how to get it.”

– Former teen mom Nikki Parker, who needed public assistance during her two children’s youngest years. Oklahoma ranks second in the US for teen pregnancies. (Source:

Number of the Day

$189 million

Oklahoma’s estimated corporate income tax revenue losses due to offshore tax havens in 2011.

Source: U.S. PIRG Education Fund

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What Do Millennials Want from the Healthcare System?

The 18-34 year old segment of our population is a large, growing and important in our society. There are 80 million strong. Their attitudes, beliefs, values and actions are re-shaping the way every organization, business and institution thinks about its future. According to a Pew Research report released last week, Millennials are independents and skeptics: 50% have no political affiliation, 29% no religious affiliation, and 19% say they do not trust established institutions to do the right things (versus 40% for Baby Boomers). Millennials worry about money. A study by the Investor Education Foundation of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority concluded they concerns about their about auto, credit card and school debt trumps other issues.

Read more from The Health Care Blog.

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.