In The Know: Senate leader favors across-the-board cuts over targeted budget cuts

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

Fallin plan to rewrite Oklahoma budget falls flat in Senate: Gov. Mary Fallin’s suggestion that lawmakers redraft the current fiscal year state budget plan to ease funding cuts to priority areas like public schools and overcrowded prisons fell flat in the Senate, where leaders say they prefer across-the-board reductions to agency budgets. “Say you want to cut education less, then that means you have to cut someone else, mental health or somebody, greater than what the across-the-board cut would be,”said Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “If adjustments need to be made, I think they need to be made across the board.” [Associated Press]

Gov. Fallin rejects proposed mental health rules: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is rejecting proposed state mental health rules that would have prohibited payments to independent counselors and therapists to treat Medicaid-eligible Oklahoma children. Fallin said Tuesday she’s rejecting the proposal by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services that was enacted as a result of budget cuts to state agencies. [News9]

Whose side are they on?: When the equalization board met on Tuesday, the board members approved a revenue certification that grew the budget gap between this year and next year from $900.8 million to $1.1 billion. This could use up nearly half of the $466 million in tax increases Governor Fallin proposed in her FY-17 budget without even beginning to cure the original budget hole. The difficulty of the task at hand for legislators was demonstrated by the reaction to the Senate Finance Committee’s first actions on sales tax exemptions. [OK Policy]

State says report of additional money found for education inaccurate: There is a lot of confusion at the Capitol after a published report that the state found more than $43 million in school funding that could reduce cuts to schools. But state agencies say that’s not the case. “When something sounds too good to be true it usually is,” said John Estus of the State Office of Management and Enterprise Services. “That’s certainly the case here. There has been no lost money. There has been no found money. This whole situation has been blown way out of proportion.” [News9]

Charter schools possibly expanding in Oklahoma City: A battle is brewing over a proposal dealing with education in Oklahoma City. Ed Allen, the president of the Oklahoma City chapter of the American Federation of Teachers said he’s concerned about an item on the agenda for the Oklahoma City Public School Board meeting next Monday night. “We’ve been hearing rumors of from four to nine current schools being converted into a charter,” Allen said. [KFOR]

Fatal prison fight among many gang-related incidents at privately run Cimarron Correctional Facility: The September fatalities at Cimarron Correctional Facility prompted the Tulsa World to file an open records request for all 2015 incident reports from the prison, which reveal multiple large-scale gang-related stabbings; weapons galore; and arrests, including two staff members, for bringing drugs and other contraband into the facility for inmates. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma House panel approves pilot program for addiction treatment drug: Joseph Ryan Jones was kicked out of the Navy for alcohol problems. An opioid addiction made things worse when he returned home to Sand Springs, and he ended up serving five years in prison on a burglary conviction. Then the former Navy corpsman picked up a drunken- driving charge and appeared before a judge who asked him if he wanted to participate in a treatment program that could keep him out of prison. Jones, 36, told members of the House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee on Wednesday about a “miracle drug” he received through that program and urged them to expand its use. [NewsOK]

Don Millican: Common sense is the solution to fixing Oklahoma’s broken criminal justice system: Oklahomans are value-driven people. Our compassion and our ability to face problems head-on have allowed us to prosper and overcome significant challenges. We know the value of perseverance and common sense — it’s who we are. So it is troubling that common sense is largely absent in dealing with one of the greatest challenges we face: our broken criminal justice system. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoman editorial board thinks public is stupid: When The Oklahoman’s editorial board discusses health care issues — and specifically Medicaid expansion — it often makes incongruous statements that support a political position without being grounded in reality. The public deserves better than to be treated as if it were stupid. On Wednesday, the seven-member board of “the state’s most trusted news” published an editorial titled, “Oklahoma budget reality may require Medicaid changes.” While that headline statement is sadly true, the piece quickly deteriorates into an illogical argument about how Oklahoma — and its clinics, hospitals and providers — would be worse off financially had leaders expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. [William W. Savage III / NonDoc]

Voter registrations surge in Tulsa County ahead of elections: Tulsa County Election Board staff are inundated with new registrations and don’t know whether it’s because of the presidential primary, Vision package, sheriff’s special election or simply all three. “We normally get about 2,500 (voter registrations) per month,” said Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Patty Bryant. “So far, as of the 18th, we have 7,115 processed. And we think that there are 3,000 more to be done.” [Tulsa World]

Is Oklahoma feeling the Bern?: Sometime last summer, a handful of Tulsans began discussing how to join in Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ July volunteer teleconference. At first they planned to meet at someone’s home and watch the teleconference on a laptop. Then they decided they would need several laptops. Then they realized they were going to need a room. Then they realized they would need a really big room. [Tulsa World]

Clinton comments on Oklahoma politics: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has waded into local Oklahoma politics twice this month. The presidential candidate is the only one, so far, to have commented on a state issue. Her campaign first criticized a newly filed initiative petition to ban abortion. Later, Clinton criticized Gov. Mary Fallin, arguing that the governor’s proposed budget cut mental health services. In Oklahoma, a national candidate commenting on local issues is rare this election cycle. Clinton spokesman Patrick Burgwinkle said those are core issues for the candidate. [Journal Record]

Humane Society threatens lawsuit over lawmaker’s comments: Allegations of lying and threats of a defamation lawsuit have embroiled the debate over whether a nonprofit should spend money where it raises money. The apparent target of House Bill 2250 is the Humane Society of the United States. The bill would prohibit animal rights organizations from soliciting in Oklahoma if the money will be used for out-of-state programs or political activity. State Rep. Brian Renegar said he’s never mentioned the HSUS when discussing his bill, but he said Friday that he wrote the legislation after learning that the HSUS spent just $110,000 out of $1.7 million raised from Oklahomans after the 2013 Moore tornado. [Journal Record]

GOP lawmaker suggests age limits for judges, not elections: When state Rep. Chris Kannady saw fellow Republicans introduce legislation to create statewide judicial elections, he countered with a bill of his own. His legislation would force appellate judges to retire at age 75. House Bill 2339 would apply only to jurists appointed to the civil and criminal appeals courts, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court, after Nov. 1. It gives lawmakers an option, he said Thursday. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma senators want state judicial nominees to advance, even if Supreme Court process stalls: Even before the partisan fight over the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy, Senate Republicans were prepared to leave many judicial nominations hanging this year, possibly including two for Oklahoma City. Oklahoma’s senators support the two chosen for U.S. district judgeships in Oklahoma City and want the Senate to advance the nominations. There is, they said, a huge difference between district judges and Supreme Court justices. [NewsOK]

Cushing: The pipeline crossroads of the world: Cushing may be home to less than half of a percent of Oklahoma’s total population, but the city with just fewer than 8,000 residents is arguably more important to the energy industry than any other point in North America. And if anything, the importance of the self-proclaimed “Pipeline Crossroads of the World” is only growing. The Cushing Interchange, just south of the city’s downtown along Linwood Avenue, is one of the largest crude-oil marketing hubs in the U.S. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma’s tax policy should account for risks: We are now in the depths of another huge downturn in the fossil-energy business. This is the second up-close such event for me, and despite repeated pronouncements that, “We learned our lesson in the ’80s,” too many young families and countless businesses are now in harm’s way. Industry hubris is clearly a root cause, but so is our state energy-taxation policy, eagerly put in place by pandering politicians. By failing to properly tax energy, our legislators have enabled companies to act foolishly with no long-term strategic planning. [NonDoc] Last year Oklahoma lawmakers made permanent a several hundred million dollar tax break for oil and gas drilling [OK Policy].

Quote of the Day

“When we see FedEx, we just crawl under our desk. But we are going to get it all done.”

-Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Patty Bryant, who said new voter registrations have increased fivefold in advance of the March 1 Presidential primary and April 5 sheriff election and Vision sales tax package (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage change in full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment in public higher education institutions in Oklahoma, Fall 2003 to Fall 2013. The 3 percent increase was third smallest in the nation and well below the national average of 16%.

Source: College Board

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why Some States Want Strong Public-Sector Unions: Many states want effective and well-resourced unions, even though those unions will be on the other side of the bargaining table. When public unions fight for measures that help workers do their jobs safely and effectively, the public benefits too. But employers are less likely to realize these benefits when a union with inadequate resources sits across the table. [The Atlantic]

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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.

One thought on “In The Know: Senate leader favors across-the-board cuts over targeted budget cuts

  1. Where is the discussion of the Tax decrease for the wealthy? Why not start reversing income tax decreases chronologically, including industry, until the deficit is met. It is immoral for Oklahoma to cut tax for the elite and introduce the sales tax, that is so heavily on the backs of the poor?
    What hypocrites!
    With industry welfare, tax cuts and no regulation- who is going to stand up for the humans in this state? We need clean air, water, and stable earth for our homes. Do the corporations have unlimited power to steal these things until Oklahoma is no longer habitable for humans?

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