In The Know: Senate sends Fallin bill to tap Rainy Day Fund for $23 million

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

Senate sends Fallin bill to tap Rainy Day Fund for $23 million: The Senate on Wednesday sent Gov. Mary Fallin a bill to tap the Rainy Day Fund for $23.3 million to go to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The measure, House Bill 1081, passed by a vote of 36-1. It is the first bill of the special session to make it to the governor’s desk. Fallin called lawmakers into special session on Sept. 25 after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled lawmakers illegally passed a $1.50 cigarette tax as a fee, tossing out the measure [Tulsa World]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy].

Oklahoma House Raises Oil, Gas Production Tax on Some Wells: The Oklahoma House has approved a measure to increase the gross production tax on oil and gas to 7 percent for some wells after defeating a proposal to impose the maximum 7 percent rate on all wells. The House approved the measure Wednesday on a 64-31 vote. The Republican-controlled chamber tabled attempts by Democrats to raise the gross production tax for all wells as high as 7 percent [AP]. Lawmakers have good revenue options for special session if they have the will to use them [OK Policy].

Without a state budget solution, funding cuts pose challenges for mental health consumers, their families and local agencies: When the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services leaders announced that the state agency must shed 23 percent of its budget — $75 million — effectively eliminating all outpatient services by early December, Jeanette Moore and her staff began the harder work. As executive director of Hope Community Services Inc., one of the state’s 15 community mental health centers, Moore delivered the news that 4,439 clients — called consumers in the mental health field — might lose access to case management, therapy and other programs they rely on for their health [Oklahoma Gazette]. DHS sends letters to seniors, disabled adults notifying of home-care program elimination [The Frontier] Care for seniors, people with disabilities at risk as DHS grapples with budget shortfall [OK Policy].

What now? With clock ticking, Legislature weighs options to avert Doomsday: Last week, lawmakers’ attempt to address the state budget crisis in special session collapsed. They rejected proposals that would have filled the entire budget hole and averted imminent and catastrophic cuts to the three health care and social service agencies — the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services , Oklahoma Health Care Authority, and Department of Human Services — that lost $214 million in funding when the State Supreme Court found a cigarette fee passed earlier this year unconstitutional [OK Policy].

Seven percent GPT initiative ‘could exacerbate’ oil and gas tension: “What is GPT?” If you were on Jeopardy!, that would be the right question for the following answer: “A complex state tax on oil and gas producers that has been wedged into Oklahoma’s political narrative and might appear on a 2018 statewide ballot.” What a handful of Republican oil producers and a number of Democratic politicians hope is that the voting public will approve something that the Legislature has spent all year avoiding: raising the “incentive rate” for gross production taxes (GPT) from 2 to 7 percent [NonDoc]. We must end oil and gas tax breaks to save Oklahoma communities [OK Policy].

Doerflinger lashes Legislature for ‘flagrant disregard’ of balanced budget requirement: One of Gov. Mary Fallin’s closest advisers ripped legislative leadership on Wednesday morning for what he called blatant disregard for the state constitution. “Perpetuating the theory that providing a small amount of funding to help agencies with the promise we can come back during regular session blatantly disregards the balanced budget requirement set in our constitution,” Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information Technology Preston Doerflinger said in a written statement [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Supreme Court won’t hear standard deduction lawsuit: The Oklahoma Supreme Court will not take up a lawsuit challenging a new state law that uncouples Oklahoma’s standard deduction rate for income tax returns from the federal rate. The state’s highest court ruled Wednesday that it will not hear a lawsuit filed by Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson, a Republican candidate for governor, that challenges the law adopted earlier this year [AP]. 

Oklahomans have from now until December 15 to get health insurance for 2018: Fall is here, and the online marketplace is up and running with options that won’t eat into your pumpkin spice budget. This year’s shortened open enrollment period will span from November 1st to December 15th, 2017, with coverage beginning on January 1st. (Note: Members of a federally-recognized American Indian tribe are exempt from these deadlines and can enroll on at any time of the year.) [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: Stop the sabotage: This week begins the 2018 open enrollment period for Americans to buy health insurance on, the online marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act. Republican efforts to kill the ACA collapsed this summer amid massive public outcry against GOP bills that would have taken health coverage from millions of Americans. However, since taking office in January, the Trump administration has done everything it can to undermine the ACA [David Blatt / Journal Record].

ACLU claims Oklahomans forced to live in squalid conditions at court-sanctioned work camp: Participants in a court-sanctioned work camp lived in squalid, bedbug-ridden barracks and were forced to work as many as 60 hours a week in a program that masqueraded as drug treatment, the ACLU of Oklahoma claims in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday. The lawsuit was filed in Tulsa federal court on behalf of seven former participants in the DARP Foundation program [NewsOK].

Report: Oklahoma’s children of color face major obstacles: Oklahomans are an aspirational people. We believe in the power of hard work to transform our lives and transform our communities. We have stories we tell ourselves to support that idea: pioneers who founded Oklahoma City in a day, energy industry leaders who rose from poverty to become immensely successful, and athletes who inspired millions. This is the Oklahoma many of us know and love and are proud to call home [Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy CEO Joe Dorman / NonDoc].

Oklahoma scores D-grade on early birth report card: Bad news for babies in Oklahoma: Preterm birth rate is on the rise. In Oklahoma, one in 10 babies are born too early. When these tiny babies come early, they are at risk for lifelong health issues and even infant death. According to the March of Dimes, moms and babies face higher risks based on race and zip code [KFOR].

Virtual Schools Could Reap Largest Gains in Charter Schools Lawsuit: Virtual charter schools stand to receive the largest share of local tax funding if a lawsuit by a pro-charter-school group is successful. That gain could occur despite the fact that virtual schools have fewer expenses than brick-and mortar ones, with few or no buildings to purchase and no transportation to provide. The Oklahoma Public Charter School Association is suing the state Board of Education over the funding allocated to charter schools, which it argues is inequitable [Oklahoma Watch].

More than $4 million raised by gubernatorial candidates in third quarter as expensive race shapes up: More than $4 million was raised by 12 candidates in the third quarter of 2017 as the battle to become Oklahoma’s next governor continues to shape up. The race, which will likely end up being the most expensive in Oklahoma’s history by the time it ends in November 2018, appears at least financially to be between four men: Republicans Todd Lamb, Kevin Stitt and Mick Cornett, and Democrat Drew Edmondson. Third-quarter fundraising and expenditure forms were due to be filed Tuesday [The Frontier].

Suit planned over charter change proposal to let city workers campaign: A Tulsa resident plans to file a lawsuit against the city to halt the Nov. 14 vote on a proposed city charter change that would give city employees the right to participate in campaigns for municipal offices. Attorney Thomas Mortensen, representing an unnamed client, sent a letter last month to Mayor G.T. Bynum and city councilors in which he argues that the proposed charter change does not meet the requirements for placing a charter amendment on the ballot [Tulsa World].

Bridenstine confirmation hearing: ‘The advocacy I’ve had for constituents of Oklahoma is the same advocacy I’d like to bring to NASA’: U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine assured a key Senate committee Wednesday that if confirmed as NASA administrator he will protect the agency from the kind of partisan politics that has marked his brief congressional career and triggered withering criticism from Democrats. Trying to turn his style of advocacy for his Oklahoma district into an asset, the three-term Republican said he would bring that same style of leadership to NASA as it faces future challenges [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“We sincerely regret this action. Should the state Legislature act to restore funding for the ADvantage Waiver before December 1, 2017, DHS will notify you as quickly as possible. ”

– A letter sent from the state Department of Human Services sent to 21,000 Oklahomans who are elderly or have disabilities and rely on the  ADvantage program to receive in-home care. The ADvantage waiver is one of a number of similar programs that will be terminated at the end of November unless a budget agreement is reached (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of children ages 10-17 in Oklahoma who are overweight or obese, 11th highest in the US in 2016

Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

America Can’t Fix Poverty Until It Stops Hating Poor People: “Hell is other people,” famously wrote the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre at the close of his 1943 play No Exit. While for Sartre this was a philosophically sophisticated point, in America today it has become simply the way we increasingly treat people at the margins of our society. We see whole groups of people as unlike ourselves—as the undesirable “other.” Many different kinds of people have been harmfully “othered” throughout our country’s history, and the plights of these groups have received well-deserved attention and focus. But there is one group that we systematically other today—with hugely damaging consequences—while hardly even realizing that we are doing it. Those people are Americans living in poverty [CityLab].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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