In The Know: Proposal calls for tax hikes, new taxes, agency cuts and teacher pay raises

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

Proposal calls for tax hikes, new taxes, agency cuts and teacher pay raises: Gov. Mary Fallin last week gave lawmakers a budget proposal that includes tax hikes, new taxes, cuts to agencies and a teacher pay raise. The plan was presented Wednesday behind closed doors as a compilation of ideas from Republicans and Democrats. Fallin said the proposal was created after a stalemate on a special session budget plan [Tulsa World]. Lawmakers must use special session to fix the budget, not pass the buck [OK Policy].

Oklahoma GOP official positive on budget negotiations: Budget negotiators at the Oklahoma Capitol are “circling an agreement,” House Floor Leader Jon Echols said Monday, showing a glimmer of optimism amid months of stalled budget negotiations and political gamesmanship. In a Facebook post, Echols said negotiations would continue in several meetings Monday even as the House and Senate have no public special session hearings scheduled this week. The governor’s office circulated a list of proposals last week that includes virtually every idea touted by legislative leaders in the past year [NewsOK]. Bills filed in special session put many options in play [OK Policy].

Tax break has cost Oklahoma $465 million, report finds: Oklahoma should end a capital gains tax exemption that benefits high-income residents and cost state coffers $465 million over five years, a state board was told last week. For more than a decade, the state has allowed profits from the sale of Oklahoma-based property and stocks to be fully deductible in hopes of spurring investment. Pennsylvania-based PFM Group Consulting says that hasn’t worked [NewsOK]. The evaluation is available here. Oklahoma’s capital gains tax break is a windfall for the wealthiest with no proven benefit for the economy [OK Policy].

Congress Lets Insurance Program for Poor Children Expire, Oklahoma to Lose $49M: Health care for Oklahoma’s poorest children will take a $49 million dollar hit because of congressional inaction. Federal lawmakers did not reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, by a Saturday deadline. Cate Jeffries with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority said they can prolong the program if they essentially start buying on credit [KWGS]. Oklahoma is one of seven states whose CHIP funding is projected to run out between April and June of 2018 [Kaiser Family Foundation].

Broken Arrow teen’s death at football stadium reignites conversation on Oklahoma’s youth suicide rate: The recent death of a Broken Arrow teenager who reportedly jumped from the top of a football stadium calls attention to the state’s high number of youth suicides. Oklahoma ranked 11th nationally in suicide rate for people age 15 to 24 years old in 2015, with 92 deaths, the American Association of Suicidology reported in January. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among the state’s youth, according to the nonprofit organization [Tulsa World].

Mental Health Agency Wants Overdose Reversal Drugs in More Hands: State officials want to put friends and loved ones of prescription drug addicts on the front lines of the battle against opioid deaths. The key is more access to the overdose reversal drug Naloxone, which is an increasingly common tool among first responders. There are now 19 community hubs throughout Oklahoma that offer free Naloxone kits [KWGS].

Family of deaf man shot by police call for investigation by state attorney general’s office: Attorneys representing the family of a deaf and developmentally disabled man shot and killed last month by an Oklahoma City police officer have called for the Oklahoma attorney general’s office to take over the investigation. In a Sept. 29 letter addressed to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, attorney Melvin C. Hall said the investigation should not be handled by the Oklahoma City Police Department due to “premature and factually baseless comments” made by Chief Bill Citty [NewsOK].

Does the time fit the crime? This week on Reveal, we take a look at prisons as a part of our series And Justice for Some. The number of women in U.S. prisons has increased more than 700 percent since 1980. And for nearly all of that time, Oklahoma has led the nation in locking up women. Reveal Senior Editor Ziva Branstetter teams up with Allison Herrera and The Frontier, an Oklahoma-based investigative news website, to find out why [Reveal].

ICE detainees now being held in Okmulgee County Jail: The Okmulgee County Criminal Justice Authority received the first 10 of an anticipated 200 ICE detainees Tuesday. These persons will be held in the Okmulgee County Jail according to an agreement with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). These detainees and the costs of their housing will be reimbursed to the OCCJA at the rate of $48.00 per day until Sept. 30. There is a possibility that a contract with ICE will be executed with increased rates of reimbursement beginning in October [Okmulgee Times].

Sheriff retires, dismisses lawsuit against county commissioners: Cleveland County Sheriff Joe Lester announced his retirement today and dismissed the lawsuit against Cleveland County Commissioners. “This letter is to inform you that effective immediately, I am retiring from the position of sheriff of Cleveland County,” Lester wrote in a letter to commissioners on Monday. “I got a texted and emailed letter where Joe is resigning immediately with his signature, and our attorneys were contacted by his attorney saying that he is dismissing the lawsuit,” said County Commissioner Darry Stacy [Norman Transcript].

Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice announces plan to retire at the end of 2017: Oklahoma will soon have a vacancy on its Supreme Court with the impending retirement of a justice. Governor Mary Fallin reports she accepted a letter Oct. 2 from Justice Joseph Watt stating his intention to retire from the Oklahoma Supreme Court at the end of 2017. Watt was appointed to the court in May 1992 [FOX25].

Brecheen’s bill would stop refunds to those who don’t pay taxes: Lawmakers have filed several bills for the legislative session that would nix tax breaks, and one lawmaker wants to home in on companies and residents that aren’t paying income taxes at all. State Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, filed several bills that would eliminate some tax policies that allow any earner – corporate or individual – to get more money in rebates than they pay in income taxes. These bills would affect two industries, wind and coal, as well as individuals seeking a sales tax break [Journal Record].

ODOT: 40 planned road projects axed in Oklahoma: Forty planned road projects across the state have been axed amid the state’s ongoing budget woes, Oklahoma’s transportation secretary announced Monday. Mike Patterson, who also serves as the executive director of the Department of Transportation, said additional projects could face the chopping block as lawmakers consider taking more transportation funds to fill a lingering state budget shortfall topping more than $200 million [CNHI].

SNAP food aid program tied to lower health spending for poor: For low-income U.S. adults, enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may be associated with lower health spending, a new study suggests. SNAP provides a monthly grocery allowance to roughly one in seven Americans, researchers note in JAMA Internal Medicine. The federal government determines eligibility based on household income, but enrollment policies vary by state [Reuters].

Upcoming ‘Watch-Out’ Forum: The Treatment of Women: Oklahoma Watch will host a public forum on Tuesday, Oct. 24, about the treatment of women in the workplace and in public and private-sector leadership roles. The free forum, entitled “The Treatment of Women,” will be held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Kamp’s 1910 Café, 10 N.E. 10th St. in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma Watch Executive Editor David Fritze will moderate the discussion, and questions from the audience will be taken. Guests are encouraged to RSVP online at [Oklahoma Watch].

Quote of the Day

“The incentive overall cannot, with the data available, be credibly shown to have significant economic impact or a positive return on investment for the state.”

– PFM Group Consulting, in a report to the state Incentive Evaluation Commission that recommends ending the capital gain tax exemption, which the company says has cost the state $465 million over five years (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans insured through Medicaid in 2016

Source: U.S. Census

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Memo To Mayors Courting Amazon’s HQ2: Now’s The Time To Be Stingy And Smart: Inc.’s announcement that it will build a massive second headquarters—”HQ2″— and stage a public competition among metro areas for it, has set off a national frenzy. Over a hundred cities from Chicago and Cincinnati to Tacoma and Tampa Bay (and even 23 different neighborhoods in New York City) have expressed interest in bidding for the headquarters, offering everything from massive tax incentives to a 23-foot-tall cactus to court the online retail behemoth. It’s the trophy deal of the decade, if not the quarter-century. It’s also one ripe opportunity to expose and challenge the whole “economic war among the states” that is causing public officials to prepare extremely costly tax-break offers for a company valued at $450 billion and with a long history of tax avoidance [Fast Company].

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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.

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