In The Know: Questions remain on how to balance budget 10 weeks into legislative session

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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including Advocacy Alerts, the Legislative Primer, the What’s That? Glossary, and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Questions remain on how to balance budget 10 weeks into legislative session: The 10th week of the legislative session came to an end at the Capitol, and lawmakers are still working to figure out how to balance the budget. “We’re well aware of the time frame,” Sen. Mike Schulz said. As lawmakers get over committee deadline week, it’s still not clear how they will fill an $878 million budget hole. [KOCO News 5] See OK Policy’s Online Budget Guide for more information about legislative deadlines and the budget process in Oklahoma.

Condolences on the death of state Rep. David Brumbaugh: State Rep. David Brumbaugh died suddenly Saturday. He was 56. The Broken Arrow Republican had served the people of District 76 since 2011. We knew him to be a man of faith and conviction, but also of gentleness and humility. He was a man whose fundamental fairness allowed him to rise above faction. [Editorial Board/Tulsa World]

State giving up hundreds of millions in petroleum tax giveaways: Oklahoma’s state budget is in crisis. We are unable to pay our teachers and state employees competitive salaries, or ensure adequate staffing at our veterans care centers. Thousands of Oklahomans with mental illness or disabilities are stuck on years-long waiting lists for care. These problems are not just about the state of our economy. Policy choices have made our financial situation much worse than it needs to be. [David Blatt/Tulsa World] Oklahoma is expected to lose $513 million in FY 2018 due to gross production tax breaks and rebates. [OK Policy]

Time to pay your taxes … and time to rethink our attitudes about taxation: No one likes to pay taxes. But they are necessary. They pay for our military, infrastructure, education, healthcare and many other needed services. Think taxes are unnecessary? Take a look at the mess Oklahoma is in right now — four-day-a-week schools, overcrowded prisons and state troopers who can’t afford to patrol. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]

The state is falling apart; can we please do something about the budget?: It’s time to talk about the budget. We are bleeding teachers to other states, we’re putting public education in peril, we’re bankrupting hospitals, and we’re putting abused children at risk. Yet we’re over halfway through the legislative session, and we still don’t have a plan to address our growing budget disaster. [Rep. Meloyde Blancett/Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Teacher of the Year: Should I stay or should I go?: A few months ago, my wife and I obtained certification to teach in Texas. We love our school, our district, our city, our students, and their families, but what’s happening to education in the state of Oklahoma is criminal. We want to stay and serve our students, but we will no longer feel guilt for wanting to provide for our family. We’re tired of the rhetoric and guilt tactics. [Shawn Seehan/Tulsa World]

A slow execution for public education: The murder of public education is occurring in plain sight. It’s not like a crime of passion, sudden death wrought by a single bullet. Rather, it’s a slow, tortuous execution – drip, drip, drip – carried out by elected leaders who profess their devotion to Oklahoma’s schools. [Arnold Hamilton/Journal Record] Investing in education is key for growth and job creation. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma Schools Beset by High Principal Turnover: For decades, principals have come and gone at Tulsa’s McLain High School so frequently, it’s nearly unheard of for a student to complete all four years of high school without seeing a new face in the principal’s office. The school has had at least 11 principals or co-principals since 2000 and now is losing yet another one, who, after three years in the job, is leaving after the school year. McLain is not the only Oklahoma school struggling to hold on to principals. [Oklahoma Watch]

OETA’s ‘Dollars For Dimes’ Looks At The Cost of Increased Fees in Oklahoma: Over the past few years, state lawmakers have increased fees on criminal penalties as a way to increase revenue. But, a new report from OETA finds the overall cost to the tax payer appears to far outweigh the benefits. [KOSU] See our special report on fines and fees in the Oklahoma criminal justice system here.

Energy Industry Divided as Public Calls to Increase Oil and Gas Taxes Grow Louder: The 2017 legislative session is beyond the halfway point and the clock is ticking on lawmakers who have until the end of May to set the state’s budget and plug an $870 million funding hole. Legislators say every option is on the table, including one with growing public support: Increasing taxes on oil and gas. [StateImpact]

Oklahoma legislative changes to criminal justice reform bills may hurt effort to reduce incarceration rate: Although reform advocates expressed frustration Friday with several House amendments, they also said they were grateful that two House committees agreed to advance the bills forward. Cleveland even called the committee votes “historic” and said he remains hopeful that before this session is over, lawmakers will be able to reach a consensus on reforms that will lower the state’s incarceration rate, while preserving and ultimately improving public safety. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Governor And Senator Want Troubled Youth Psych Facility Investigated: Oklahoma’s Republican governor and senior senator have called for authorities to investigate a troubled psychiatric facility in Tulsa that was the subject of a BuzzFeed News investigation. Violence at Shadow Mountain Behavioral Health often put patients and staff in danger, the investigation found, and the facility has been plagued by understaffing. [BuzzFeed]

State Auditor Says Every Tax Credit Review Should be Public: In making a call this week for a 5% gross production tax on oil and gas and wind, State Auditor Gary Jones also said the law should include more transparency. He says every tax credit issued by the state should under what he calls a “legitimacy review” to ensure each is worthy of taxpayer dollars. [OK Energy Today]

Oklahoma Is Trying To Undermine Science In Classrooms (Again): A bill that could undermine science education in schools is moving through Oklahoma’s legislature ― again. If the Oklahoma Science Education Act, which allows the state’s public school teachers to challenge scientific facts during classroom instruction, sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the seventh year in a row Sen. Josh Brecheen (R) has introduced some iteration of this bill. [Huffington Post]

Principal for a Day event highlights struggles of OKCPS: For Adam Jewell, in his second year as the head principal at Capitol Hill Hill School, a routine work day begins at 6 a.m. On one such particular day, he anticipated getting home after 10 p.m. due to an after-school activity. Everything in between could make the difference for the students at this south-side Oklahoma City school that first opened its doors in 1928. [NonDoc]

Legislature considers a more compassionate parole board: A proposed law would diversify the Pardon and Parole Board. Oklahoma officials want to get the state’s prison population down, and one lawmaker has pushed doing so by getting more social work experts on the board. [Journal Record]

A statewide programs helps improve the lives of first-time mothers and their children: Poverty is a vicious cycle with multiple elements — underemployment, financial hardship, poor health and housing, child maltreatment, domestic violence, lack of self-worth and hopelessness — that combine to form a rising tide. Programs like Children First, supported by two-generational, evidence-based methods, can stem that tide and even reverse poverty and its effects. [OK Gazette]

Oklahoma, your friends and neighbors are hungry, and you can do more to deal with it: Hunger costs our state $1.4 billion a year in increased medical costs and decreased academic performance. Hunger impacts brain development in infants and children, and it results in poorer academic performance and behavioral issues for students. Hunger leads to more visits to emergency rooms and higher risk of chronic diseases. It leads to increased absences from work and school. And ultimately, the consequences of hunger are roadblocks to achieving self-sufficiency and success. [Chris Bernard/ Tulsa World] Watch 9 myths about food insecurity in Oklahoma here.

Quote of the Day

“We want to stay and serve our students, but we will no longer feel guilt for wanting to provide for our family. We’re tired of the rhetoric and guilt tactics. Of course, I knew teaching wasn’t a high-paying career, but I should be able to pay my bills. My work and talents are worth more than my salary.”

 – 2016 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Shawn Sheehan reflecting on his recent trip to a career fair in Texas, where he obtained his certification to teach a few months ago (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of women in Oklahoma with a recent live birth who reported experiencing postpartum depression in 2016

Source: America’s Health Rankings

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What the Unemployment Drug-Testing Bill on Trump’s Desk Means for States: Virtually all states already disqualify a person for unemployment compensation if they lost their job because of drug use. Three states (Mississippi, Texas and Wisconsin) have laws calling for drug testing in their unemployment insurance programs. So far, none have implemented them. But if the rules about drug testing are relaxed, they may start — and more states could follow suit. Drug testing the unemployed, however, may invite costly lawsuits. [Governing]

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

One thought on “In The Know: Questions remain on how to balance budget 10 weeks into legislative session

  1. Criminal justice reform threatens political power, professional position, and agency resources. OK’s opponents of reform have never effectively answered why their policies, covered in a shroud of “public safety,” have left Oklahomans demonstrably more unsafe than citizens of states that have adopted the reforms that they oppose. The only reasonable answer is that they understand how they will be harmed and spew public safety as their protection. The answer that they are too ignorant to know they’re ignorant is just as likely for many if not all of them. Which explains why they get such favorable hearings from the average OK legislator.

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