In The Know: Pro Tem Bingman warns of budget shortfall as Speaker Shannon wishes for sped up tax cut

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 Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman warned of a possible state budget shortfall this year, while House Speaker T.W. Shannon said the shortfall could have been avoided if an income tax cut scheduled for 2015 had been implemented immediately. Kansas officials reduced their projections for state revenue following a massive tax cut and now expect revenues to be 7.6 percent lower than the previous year.

The A-F school grades released yesterday saw a dramatic rise in the number of ‘F’ grades, and educators pointed out that schools with improving student achievement saw their grades decrease. The OK Policy Blog discussed how Oklahoma is falling behind in court-mandated efforts to improve protections for neglected and abused children. A petition group filed a second lawsuit against Attorney General Scott Pruitt in a fight to add storm shelters to every Oklahoma school.

David Blatt’s Journal Record column examine a provision of Oklahoma’s Quality Jobs Program that allows the state to make payments to companies that are creating no new jobs. The Oklahoma National Guard will process military benefits for same-sex partners at additional federally-owned facilities around the state after military leaders contradicted Governor Fallin’s order to stop processing benefits.

The Sapulpa Daily Herald discussed some of the 240 new Oklahoma laws that went into effect Friday. Rep. Joe Dorman is proposing a bill that would allow death row inmates to donate their organs. The Number of the Day is how many Child Protective Services cases are backlogged due to high turnover and vacancies in the state’s child welfare workforce. In today’s Policy Note, The Nation reports on how waiting lists for food aid have been growing, with almost 15 percent of the nation’s elderly not having enough to eat.

In The News

Pro Tem Bingman warns of budget shortfall as Speaker Shannon wishes for sped up tax cut

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, warned Wednesday of a possible state revenue shortfall this budget year, while House Speaker T.W. Shannon said an income tax cut scheduled for 2015 should have been implemented immediately. The two legislative leaders addressed the Tulsa Regional Chamber on the 2014 legislative agenda. Bingman, who has demonstrated a more cautious approach to revenue and tax cuts, noted that general fund allocations for the first quarter of the current budget year are more than 8 percent lower than expectations and 4 percent less than the same period a year ago.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Kansas officials decrease revenue estimates following tax cuts

Kansas officials on Wednesday slightly reduced their projections for state revenue during the current fiscal year. The latest forecast predicts that the state will collect $5.86 billion in revenue, while the old forecast, made in April, had projected revenue of $5.89 billion. The new fiscal forecast didn’t dampen the debate over massive personal income tax cuts enacted by legislators at Brownback’s urging to stimulate the economy. The state collected $6.34 billion in revenue during its previous fiscal year, and with the tax cuts fully in effect, revenue during the current fiscal year are projected to be 7.6 percent lower.

Read more from the Wichita Eagle.

A-F grades see dramatic rise in number of ‘F’ schools

At a special meeting Wednesday, the state Board of Education voted unanimously to certify school report cards calculated with a new formula for each of the state’s 1,785 public schools. The new calculation method resulted in nearly three times as many schools with below average grades, including 163 schools that received F’s compared to just 10 last year. State Superintendent Janet Barresi told the state board members that the changes were the result higher standards and a new grade calculation method that was devised at the Capitol this spring.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma protections for abused children still a long way from the pinnacle

In October, findings were submitted by the outside experts monitoring the Pinnacle Plan, Oklahoma’s court-mandated effort to fix its child welfare system. Their report raises serious concerns about the plan’s implementation in its first year. In particular, the report makes clear that Oklahoma is still not investing enough to provide the legal minimum protections for children who are victims of abuse and neglect.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Take Shelter Oklahoma ask high court to dismiss Pruitt on ballot initiative

Take Shelter Oklahoma filed a second lawsuit against Attorney General Scott Pruitt Wednesday in a fight to add storm shelters to every Oklahoma school. Now, supporters want the Oklahoma Supreme Court to take away Scott Pruitt’s power to alter the storm shelter ballot initiative. The fight between the group and Pruitt began over Pruitt’s wording on a proposed ballot that would add storm shelters to every Oklahoma school. Supporters say the wording was political in nature and focused more on a tax increase than the shelters. Claims of additional political interference had plaintiff lawyers back at court Wednesday.

Read more from NewsOn6.

Prosperity Policy: Quality control needed

Years of budget cuts and flat funding in Oklahoma have ramped up the pressure on schools and state agencies to ensure that every public dollar is well spent. Yet a new report shows Oklahoma’s largest tax incentive program is falling short of that standard. The report by Mark Lash examines the Quality Jobs Program, which last year paid out $79 million in quarterly cash payments to Oklahoma companies based on the creation of good-paying new jobs. But under a provision added to the program in 2006 known as Change in Control Event, companies that create no new jobs are also receiving payments from the state.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Oklahoma National Guard will process same-sex spouse benefits at federally-owned facilities

The Oklahoma National Guard will begin processing military benefit applications for same-sex partners at a few federally owned National Guard facilities around the state, Gov. Mary Fallin announced Wednesday. Same-sex married couples still won’t be able to apply for benefits at state-owned facilities, and state employees won’t process the applications. Same-sex partners may now apply for military benefits at Camp Gruber, near Braggs; the Regional Training Institute in Oklahoma City and Air National Guard bases at Will Rogers World Airport and Tulsa International Airport.

Read more from NewsOK.

State seeing 240 new laws

Around 240 new laws went into effect Friday, November 1 and though most are redefining and amending old laws, there are some that are going to impact all Oklahomans. Some new laws will increase prices, free restrictions for self employed businesses, and impacted uninsured drivers and privacy rights. The first bill many will notice right away is the increase in the fee for driver’s licence. Senate Bill 642 raised prices for class A,B, and C licences by $10. Class D, which it the type that the majority of Oklahoma will be in possession of, will increase $12 to a total of $33.50 for a renewal.

Read more from the Sapulpa Daily Herald.

Lawmaker wants to allow death row inmates to donate organs

A state lawmaker thinks he’s found the perfect place to locate the hard-to-find organs needed for lifesaving transplants: on death row Dorman acknowledges that the controversial measure faces several hurdles, including changing the state’s execution procedure for those who volunteer to serve as donors. Oklahoma now executes inmates using lethal injection, which would render any donated organs unusable. Under Dorman’s plan, inmates would be anesthetized, have their organs removed at the correctional facility by a surgeon, then be kept on life support until they are executed.

Read more from NewsOK.


Quote of the Day

The tax cut we passed — we delayed it a year. I am confident if we had not done that we would have seen an increase in revenue.

-House Speaker T.W. Shannon, on reports that Oklahoma may face a budget shortfall this year (Source: Income tax cuts went into effect in Oklahoma in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2012; this year’s real appropriations budget remains below what it was in FY 2006.

Number of the Day


The backlog of Oklahoma Child Protective Services cases as of mid-October, due to high turnover and vacancies in the state’s child welfare workforce.

Source: OKDHS Pinnacle Plan Co-Neutrals

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Waiting lists for food aid growing; almost 15 percent of the nation’s elderly don’t have enough to eat

Eva Perdue, her legs wrapped in a black- and-white-checked blanket, a bright red kerchief tied in her hair, sits on a couch in her small house near downtown Atlanta that Habitat for Humanity built. She once worked as a housekeeper at a Georgia state mental facility but quit nine years ago to care for a sick husband. Now 64 and widowed, Perdue herself is sick. “Curses of the liver and high blood pressure,” she says. She has little money to buy any food, let alone healthy food: $98 is all she has after bills are paid from her $848 monthly Social Security check plus $68 worth of food stamps.

Read more from The Nation.

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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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