In The Know: Republican leaders split on continuing tax cuts amid budget shortfall

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 state Republican leaders are split over continuing tax cuts amid an expected $170 million budget shortfall, and Governor Fallin said House Speaker T.W. Shannon’s push to make permanent a tax exemption for the oil and gas industry was a “non-starter.” On the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson declaration of a “War on Poverty”, Oklahoma Watch shared a portrait of poverty in Oklahoma. OK Policy’s Gene Perry debated the legacy of the War on Poverty with OCPA’s Tina Korbe Dzurisin.

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber board of directors unveiled its 2014 legislative agenda, including more workers’ compensation reform, accepting federal funds for expanding Insure Oklahoma, and fully implementing Common Core standards. You can see the full agenda here

The federal health insurance marketplace has identified almost 2,800 Oklahomans as eligible for Medicaid, but it’s unknown whether any of them have signed up. Enid Superintendent Shawn Hime is leaving the district to become executive director of Oklahoma State School Board Association. Kansans are concerned that growing momentum for passenger rail between Oklahoma City and Tulsa will leave out Wichita.

The Tulsa World’s Julie Delcour writes that Tulsa’s juvenile justice facility has become a “Dickensian dump.” Despite DHS efforts to protect children in its custody, four died in 2013 from neglect or abuse. Editorials in both the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman argue that lawmakers need to show more courage and sense in reforming criminal justice in Oklahoma. A non-profit that helps ex-felons get jobs is expanding its efforts to Oklahoma City.

The Number of the Day is how many pedestrians and bicyclists were involved in crashes with automobiles in 2012 in Oklahoma’s cities. In today’s Policy Note, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shares research showing that safety net programs that have helped reduce child poverty in the short term are also opening doors of opportunity for those children in the long run.

In The News

Despite declining revenue, Okla. House Speaker pushes cuts to income, drilling taxes

Despite a projected $170 million decline in revenue available for the Legislature to spend on schools, child welfare and other state programs, House Speaker T.W. Shannon wants an income tax cut and a permanent and generous oil and gas drilling tax incentive that is costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The 2014 legislative session is still several weeks away, but the Republican speaker, preparing for his second session leading the increasingly conservative House, already has staked out firm positions despite his own caucus seeking increased spending for education and public safety.

Read more from the Associated Press.

A portrait of poverty in Oklahoma, 50 years after a declaration of ‘war’

Go to any public place in Oklahoma with a broad cross-section of people and take a look around. Every sixth Oklahoman you see, on average, will be officially poor. That’s a big improvement over 50 years ago, when the average was closer to one in three. Much of the progress came during the decade following President Lyndon Johnson’s Jan. 8, 1964, promise to wage an “unconditional” war on poverty.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Face-Off Over the ‘War on Poverty’

Oklahoma Watch invited researchers from two Oklahoma think tanks — the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and the Oklahoma Policy Institute — to offer their views on the theme, “The ‘War on Poverty:’ Success or Failure?'”

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Oklahoma City Chamber announces legislative agenda

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber board of directors on Thursday unveiled its 2014 legislative agenda. Among the Chamber’s legislative priorities are additional workers’ compensation reform, state pension reform, accepting federal funds for Insure Oklahoma to help more of the state’s uninsured, and support for the full implementation of Common Core educational standards.

Read more from NewsOK.

See the full legislative agenda.

Oklahoma Medicaid agency has yet to record applicants from

The federal health insurance marketplace has identified almost 2,800 Oklahomans as eligible for a state Medicaid program, but it’s unknown whether any of them have signed up for the program. Since Oct. 1, 2,747 Oklahomans have applied for health insurance coverage through the federal marketplace and been identified through their applications as eligible for either Medicaid or the children’s Medicaid program — but the federal government has not finished creating a system to transmit that information to Oklahoma’s Medicaid agency.

Read more from NewsOK.

Enid Superintendent Shawn Hime leaving to lead OSSBA

Shawn Hime, superintendent of Enid Public Schools since 2008, is leaving the district to become executive director of Oklahoma State School Board Association. Hime’s duties there begin April 1, but his last day with EPS has not been determined, said Amber Fitzgerald, human resources and communications director. Longtime EPS school board member Willa Jo Fowler, also OSSBA president, led the regional search for the OSSBA executive officer. Earlier this week, the OSSBA board of directors gave Hime the job.

Read more from the Enid News and Eagle.

Kansans concerned about Tulsa-OKC passenger rail

A new obstacle has arisen in Oklahoma to passenger rail’s return to Wichita. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is taking bids until Jan. 30 on a 97-mile stretch of rail between Oklahoma City and suburban Tulsa called the “Sooner Sub.” It’s largely a freight line but could potentially take a future chunk of the Heartland Flyer route away from Wichita. Meanwhile, a partnership including Watco – a private railroading firm in Pittsburg – will offer the Eastern Flyer, a $70 passenger ride this month, to gauge interest in passenger rail service between Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Read more from Oklahoma Energy Today.

Making the case for a new juvenile center

They’re not too proud to beg. And that’s exactly what county commissioners, suburban mayors, the sheriff, district judges, city councilors, state representatives and the district attorney did at a press conference last week. Several teared up during impassioned pleas for voters to approve a 0.067 sales tax later this year to fund construction of a new juvenile justice center and expansion of the Tulsa Jail. Anyone touring the downtown jail or the grossly inadequate Juvenile Bureau, 315 S. Gilcrease Road, cannot walk away unmoved by physical conditions.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma DHS struggles to safeguard children

Holly Adair-Horney expected to complete her drug rehabilitation and get her two daughters back. She expected the two girls, Alysa, 2, and Halia, 3, to be living with her now on five acres of land in Welling, about 13 miles east of Tahlequah. Instead, she said, she completed her treatment, but found at an October court date that there was still work to do. She said the girls had been placed last January with a family member she didn’t know very well, but she trusted the Department of Human Services’ judgment.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Politics has triumphed over sense in state prison policy

Politics trumping policy isn’t a crime in Oklahoma. Politicians get away with it all the time, even when their actions shortchange constituents and shackle government to broken, costly, outmoded and even unsafe ways of doing business. In 2012, Oklahoma had a chance to begin reforming its prison system, to reduce its nonviolent inmate population and to quit forcing a choice at appropriations time between throwing money down a rat hole and improving education, health care, infrastructure and other areas. And, to improve public safety.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

See also: Oklahoma lawmakers shouldn’t settle for status quo on corrections from NewsOK

Non-profit expanding efforts to help ex-felons get jobs

Officials concerned with Oklahoma’s high rates of incarceration announced Thursday an increased effort in the Oklahoma City area to find jobs for convicted felons when they leave prison. Those released cannot succeed without employment, several officials said. Each year, about 8,000 prisoners in Oklahoma are being released from prison. Nearly 1 in 3 ends up going back to prison. “It is like a released inmate climbing up mountains, with hands tied in back,” said Kelly Doyle, state director of the Center for Employment Opportunities, which aids prisoners when they are released from prison.

Read more from the Norman Transcript.

Quote of the Day

Today, GOP members fear that if they support reform efforts, they’ll be tagged as soft on crime — not by Democrats, but by other Republicans. Self-preservation is Goal No. 1 for most lawmakers. As a result, corrections reform usually just gets ignored. There’s too much downside politically.

But “corrections reform” can’t continue as a cuss word at the Capitol. Being No. 1 in the nation in female incarceration and among the top five in overall incarceration, with prisons that remain at or near capacity, inflicts enormous fiscal and social tolls. What Oklahoma needs is conservative lawmakers with the courage to stand up and face this issue and demand that their colleagues do the same.

-The Oklahoman Editorial Board (Source:

Number of the Day


The number of pedestrians and bicyclists involved in crashes with automobiles in 2012 in Oklahoma’s cities (pop. > 5,000)

Source:  Oklahoma Dept. of Public Safety

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The safety-net provides a long-lasting boost

Child poverty has fallen over the last five decades, as we explained earlier and illustrate in our new chart book. Those improvements have lasting effects: researchers are finding that the same safety net programs that have helped reduce child poverty in the short term are also opening doors of opportunity for those children in the long run. Among the findings: Food stamps help children fare better for years. Disadvantaged children who had access to food stamps in early childhood and whose mothers had access during their pregnancy had better health and educational outcomes as adults than children who didn’t have access to food stamps.

Read more from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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


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.

Leave a Reply

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