In The Know: Save Our State Coalition announces Oklahoma budget wish list

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

Save Our State Coalition announces Oklahoma budget wish list: A coalition of 20 organizations on Tuesday presented its Oklahoma budget wish list, which includes familiar ideas to raise revenue. The Save Our State Coalition proposed raising the tax rate on oil and gas production to 7 percent, up from the current 2 percent rate that lasts for the first three years. The group’s “Blueprint for a Better Budget” also would create a new income tax rate of 6 percent for income above $200,000 [NewsOK].

Oklahoma sheriff’s deputy dies after shooting: The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says a sheriff’s deputy shot while serving an eviction notice has died and that a suspect has been arrested. Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. John Vincent said Tuesday that Logan County Sheriff’s David Wade died after being taken to a hospital for his wounds. Authorities say 45-year-old Nathan Aaron LeForce shot Wade in Mulhall and then drove his patrol car about 25 miles to a convenience store near the town of Coyle. There he stole another vehicle, which has since been found near Guthrie [Associated Press].

Gov. Mary Fallin uses Tulsa event to renew call for new revenue sources: Oklahoma’s governor reiterated Tuesday evening the view her administration has taken since the beginning of the legislative session — the state needs new revenue sources to make up its budget shortfall. She told reporters following a Tulsa Regional Chamber event at Southern Hills Country Club that if she knew how willing the Oklahoma Legislature would be to expand the sales tax to include a vast array of services, “… I’d go bet at a racetrack.” [Tulsa World]

Stop Oklahoma’s health care from going up in smoke: It’s another cliffhanger at the Oklahoma Legislature as lawmakers struggle with ways to build a state budget that works for the people of Oklahoma. A bill to raise the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack notably took the first step when it was approved by the bipartisan House Appropriations and Budget Committee. We are confident our state Legislature will consider the critical need to include it in the budget agreement before the end of this session, so the fight is not over [Richard Boone / Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Health Care Providers Push for Cigarette Tax Hike: Oklahoma health care providers are urging state lawmakers to raise the state tax on cigarettes by $1.50 a pack to help pay health care costs. Members of the Oklahoma Hospital Association gathered at the State Capitol Tuesday to discuss the need for new revenue to help state health care providers. Officials say that without a cigarette tax increase, Oklahoma may have to cut the reimbursement rate for services provided to Medicaid patients by 25 percent. The could force more than a dozen hospitals in the state and nine out of 10 nursing homes to close [Associated Press]. 

What happened to my refund? It’s tax time again, and if you are one of the more than 300,000 Oklahoma households that claim the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) you may have noticed that your tax refund is lower than it was last year, even if there was no change in your income. That’s because the Oklahoma Legislature slashed the state EITC to help close last year’s budget hole. The state EITC is no longer refundable in Oklahoma, so most people who qualify for the credit will no longer get the full benefit [OK Policy].

‘Do no harm’: Managed Medicaid proposal fraught with uncertainty: A leading House Republican thinks Oklahoma needs to pump the brakes on an impending plan to privatize part of the state’s Medicaid program. A new federal rule could cause the state to lose up to $650 million in supplemental payments if the Oklahoma Health Care Authority moves forward with the privatized managed-care program being considered for aged, blind and disabled (ABD) beneficiaries [NonDoc].

Oklahoma education budget crisis affects Ada school district: “We’ve got to do a better job. Our state’s better than this,” Mike Anderson said. Ada City Schools Superintendent Mike Anderson says his district lost nearly $400,000 in state aid since January and he expects that decline to continue. “The financial condition of the state of Oklahoma does not allow proper funding for education or any state agency for that matter,” Anderson said. Anderson says budget cuts are nothing new to Oklahoma educators, but this year’s cuts have a greater impact [KXII].

Democrats Ask About State Budget On Every Bill Heard: Democrats in the State House of Representatives are intentionally ticking off their counterparts across the aisle over the state budget. Democrats are trying to make a point that, in the past two days, dozens of bills have been passed, and almost all of them have nothing to do with bridging the state’s budget gap. “Representative, we have 24-legislative days left. Does this bill have anything to do with fixing the $878-million budget shortfall?” asked Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater [News9].

Royalty interest bill goes to conference committee: A Senate bill designed to discourage mineral owners from trying to grab more money from oil and gas companies made it off the House floor on Monday, but officials said there’s still work to do. Senate Bill 731 would drop interest rates on late royalty payments. Supporters said mineral owners make themselves hard to find or make titles difficult to read so payments take longer, and the owners do so to benefit from the interest accrued during the wait. Legislators struck the title and the enactment clause, which means the bill will go to a conference committee, then back to both chambers’ floors [Journal Record].

Oklahoma’s New Attorney General Confirms He’ll Run in 2018: He’s been a state representative, Secretary of State for Oklahoma, and now he’s the state’s top law enforcement official. Monday, Attorney General Mike Hunter sat down with KRMG and our partners at FOX23 for an extensive interview on a wide range of topics. He left no doubt that his plans include running for election to the same office in 2018. “This is a job that I’m trained for, and I’ll have to work very hard to earn people’s vote,” he said [KRMG].

Bridenstine says health care reform could get House vote next week: First District Congressman Jim Bridenstine said Tuesday that House Republicans are likely to take another swing at replacing the Affordable Care Act next week. “I believe there are negotiations going on right now, that when we get back to Washington next week we’ll be in a position to take a vote,” Bridenstine said at a Tulsa Regional Chamber breakfast. “I think we’re going to get to a spot where we can pass a bill.” The Republican majority has thus far been unable to agree on the extent to which existing law should be repealed and how it should be replaced [Tulsa World].

Mayor proposes path forward for MAPS, Oklahoma City’s capital improvements sales tax: Mayor Mick Cornett has proposed making a fraction of the 1-cent MAPS capital improvements sales tax permanent, to be used primarily to hire more police officers. The balance of the penny tax would be refocused to street repairs and resurfacing, a change from the major projects most closely aligned with MAPS, such as the Bricktown ballpark and downtown streetcar. The city council discussed the proposal in a workshop Tuesday morning [NewsOK].

Cannabidiol Oil Producers Praise New Marijuana Definition: The Governor has changed the definition of what’s considered Marijuana in the state of Oklahoma. The move is being praised by producers of cannabidiol, or CBD oil, who say the extracted oil has real health benefits. Can-Tek Lab, in south OKC makes CBD oil products that contains no THC, the ingredient in marijuana that provides a high [News9].

Quote of the Day

“I’ll never forget last fall. I was at a business recruitment trip, talking about all the great things in Oklahoma. But a businessman said to me ‘I can’t come to Oklahoma because you’re so poor you only educate your children four days a week.’ … We have to fix these problems. We have to recognize that it hurts us economic development-wise.”

-Governor Mary Fallin, calling on the Legislature to pass new revenues at an event at the Tulsa Regional Chamber (Source)

Number of the Day


Change in the number of total index crimes reported in Oklahoma between 2014 and 2015

Source: OSBI

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Failed Health Bill Fuels New Momentum for Expanding Medicaid: What’s the point? That seemed to be the resounding sentiment after the election of Donald Trump from states that had not yet adopted one of Obamacare’s key policies. With Republicans in control of the House, Senate and White House, it seemed like only a matter of time before they were finally able to fulfill their goal of repealing and replacing the law formally known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But House Speaker Paul Ryan’s answer to the ACA — the American Health Care Act — died without being voted on last Friday. The following Monday, several states where GOP opposition has blocked Medicaid expansion for years suddenly opened to the possibility [Governing].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

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