In The Know: Senate approval sends budget-cutting bill to governor’s desk

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.

In The News

Senate approval sends budget-cutting bill to governor’s desk: A bill that would cut state agency budgets by nearly 2 percent is headed to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk. Fallin is expected to sign House Bill 1020 to shore up the fiscal year 2018 budget. The Senate on Wednesday voted 29-12 to approve the measure, despite debate from Senate Minority Leader John Sparks, D-Norman. If signed by the governor, agencies will take the reductions each month through June to save about $45 million. [Tulsa World]

Medical schools wait for funding resolution: Oklahoma’s two medical schools will have to wait a little longer for the supplemental funding they need to keep their doors open. After a dispute with the federal agency that oversees Medicaid, the two schools lost more than $30 million for fiscal 2018, which ends in June. The Legislature has partially passed a bill that would replace that money and ensure that the state would pay $110 million for next year. House Bill 1022 made it through appropriations and budget committees in each chamber and passed off the House floor. However, the Senate has held the bill because of legal concerns. [Journal Record]

Prosperity Policy: Let’s make a(nother) deal: Last week’s vote on House Bill 1033, the main revenue bill based on proposals from the Step Up Oklahoma coalition, seemed to many to be the best and last chance to raise enough revenue to stabilize the budget and provide a significant raise for teachers and, perhaps, state employees. Despite intense lobbying from influential constituencies, including teachers, health care providers, tribal governments, and the business community, the bill failed to gain the three-quarters support in the House needed to pass a revenue bill. [David Blatt/Journal Record].

Oklahoma State Department of Education Requests $2.9B Budget for 2019:  The Oklahoma State Department of Education has asked lawmakers for $2.9 billion next year. That nearly $474 million dollar increase includes almost $54 million more for the state aid formula. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the cost to educate Oklahoma kids keeps climbing, as there are more of them every year and more with additional needs. That increase would still leave public K–12 school funding more than $50 million below what it was in 2010. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Union leader: Teacher strike ‘possible, if not probable’: If Oklahoma teachers decide to walk out of classrooms in protest of low salaries and stagnant school funding, there has to be a clear idea of what it would take to return to work, said the leader of the state’s largest teachers union. “One of the first things that you have to have is a re-entry strategy,” said David DuVall, executive director of the Oklahoma Education Association, which has nearly 40,000 statewide members. “If you have a clearly defined goal that you are trying to achieve, such as passage of House Bill 1017 in 1990, then the win is easy: the Legislature acts on that bill.” [NewsOK] The historic House Bill 1017 which became law on April 25, 1990, is a model for cutting across partisan divisions to advance powerful reforms. [OK Policy]

Following criminal justice reform, felony drug distribution cases on the rise in some parts of Oklahoma: Drug possession became a misdemeanor in Oklahoma last year, but some areas of the state have seen a sharp rise in felony distribution cases since the new law took effect. Some parts of Oklahoma saw possession with intent to distribute charges more than double in the second half of 2017 over the previous two years, according to data compiled by ACLU of Oklahoma and the non-partisan think tank the Oklahoma Policy Institute. [The Frontier] SQ 780 is already reshaping Oklahoma’s justice system. [OK Policy]

Headed to Tulsa to advocate for medical marijuana, Colorado scholar, activist instead arrested by OHP: A prominent Colorado medical marijuana activist faces felony drug charges after what she claim was an illegal search of their vehicle in Pittsburg County. An Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper found large quantities of marijuana and several pieces of drug paraphernalia in the rental car Regina Nelson, of Boulder, and two companions were driving to Tulsa, according to a court affidavit filed in the case. Nelson is a medical marijuana scholar with a PhD who tours the country speaking about cannabis as a treatment for a variety of health issues. [The Frontier]

Bill would add two legislators to tribal compact negotiations: A Senate bill could change who is involved in the negotiations for compacts between the Native American tribes and the state. State Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, has authored Senate Bill 1206. The bill would authorize the Senate pro tempore and the speaker of the House to appoint one person from each of their bodies to participate in compact negotiations. Brecheen said a state senator and state representative should be involved because the tribes get to have their governmental councils review a compact before it’s signed. [Journal Record]

Proposal would end ‘spring forward, fall back’ in Oklahoma: Senate Bill 1309 proposes having Oklahoma permanently adopt daylight saving time and avoid the clock-switching more commonly known as “spring forward” and “fall back.” The author, State Sen. Joseph Silk, said it’s an archaic method of regulating time. He cited health risks, like a higher incidence of heart attacks and stroke, along with more traffic accidents occurring around the time shifts. [NewsOK]

Step Up campaign highlights gap in state disclosure laws: The Step Up Oklahoma plan to raise taxes on cigarettes, fuel and energy failed to pass, but it highlighted a gap in state campaign finance laws that keeps much of the funding and spending on both sides of the issue a secret. Step Up Oklahoma, which billed itself as a grassroots coalition of business and civic groups, rolled out its plan in early January. By the time a key House vote occurred almost six weeks later, the organization, operating as a private company with unknown owners, had bought or enabled television and radio ads, robo-calls, mailers, endorsements, one-to-one outreach, and the deployment of registered lobbyists of supporting companies. [Oklahoma Watch]

Costco resolution with $3M tax incentive approved by OKC panel: A resolution recommending a $3 million tax incentive to bring Costco to Oklahoma City was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust. The matter will be passed to the Oklahoma City Council, to be considered at next Tuesday’s city council meeting, Oklahoma City Economic Development Project Manager Brent Bryant said. [NewsOK]

Restaurants and bars in 14 counties could be beerless Oct. 1: The entire state likely won’t be wet by Oct. 1. Some counties will not be able to sell any kind of alcohol by the drink. Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission Director Keith Burt said the commission has tried to inform the remaining 14 counties about the pending changes. When 3.2-percent beer is unavailable, counties will be required to have liquor-by-the-drink approved in order to sell beer in restaurants and bars. [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“The needs — special education needs, for instance, English learners, poverty — those are weights that are attached to each student. So, the money has stayed basically the same, but the students have grown by about 50,000 and the weights have grown even further.”

– Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, speaking about the climbing cost to educate Oklahoma kids [Source]

Number of the Day


Percentage of management jobs in Oklahoma held by women (2016).

Source: U.S. Census

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Different Income Groups Spend Money: When you don’t make much money, your focus is on housing, food, and important things like staying alive. However, as income increases and you can more easily cover living expenses, the extra cash goes elsewhere. But on what? Here’s what people spend their money on in a year, grouped by income level. The numbers are based on estimates from the 2016 Consumer Expenditure Survey, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics runs annually. [FlowingData]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

One thought on “In The Know: Senate approval sends budget-cutting bill to governor’s desk

  1. EXCELLENT article by The Frontier on the renewed gaming of the recent criminal justice reform efforts in the state. This is what journalism is supposed to be, in case we’ve had reason to forget. Just wait until the DAs have had their first state conference since the changes and they all get together to trade options for the possible games. It will likely take a year or so for the full effects to work through, so OK Policy folks will need to follow up on their analysis of changes in arrests and conviction patterns before determining reform success. And the data analyzed shouldn’t just be limited to drugs but also to other behavior frequently associated with drug possession that suddenly start being used more and non-UCR offenses that move from misdemeanors to felonies. Both orgs are doing great work on this and keeping alive a small flame in OK that may someday be appreciated and spread.

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