In The Know: Speaker says no consensus on Capitol repairs, tax cut

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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zebre.

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Today you should know that House Speaker Jeff Hickman said the Republican caucus has not been able to reach consensus on funding Capitol repairs or further cutting the income tax. KGOU discussed findings that there is little evidence for an economic boost from tax cuts. A guest post on the OK Policy Blog shows that after two years of tax cuts in Kansas, surrounding states that held the line on taxes are doing better than Kansas on job growth.

A House subcommittee passed a bill (HB 3098) that would give 23 percent pay raises to state troopers. The committee passed two bills (HB 2313 and HB 2636) that would boost pay for Oklahoma teachers. A study requested by Governor Fallin found state employee pay lags behind comparable state governments and the private sector, but benefits for Oklahoma workers are higher.

Several hundred public employees rallied at the Capitol against a push to convert their guaranteed pensions to a 401(k)-style plan. A Senate committee approved a bill that would require doctors providing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The National Center for Science Education writes that a bill that allows miseducating students about science is back from the dead in the Oklahoma Legislature.

The Number of the Day is the minimum salary for a teacher with a Master’s degree and 25 years of experience in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, the Associated Press reports on how many older Americans who lost jobs during the recession have a new peace of mind due to the Affordable Care Act.

In The News

Hickman: No consensus on Capitol repairs, tax cut

The state Capitol architect briefed House Republicans on some of the major repairs needed for the nearly 100-year-old building, but newly elected House Speaker Jeff Hickman said Monday no consensus has been reached on how to finance the overhaul. Hickman, who was elected speaker last week, met behind closed doors with the 72-member Republican caucus to discuss various proposals to cut the state’s income tax and plans to repair the Capitol. Hickman also said no agreement was reached on any plan to cut the state’s income tax.

Read more from the Enid News & Eagle.

OSU economist, OU president question income tax cuts

Gov. Mary Fallin took her policy priorities to the overall friendly audience of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber last week. Speaking to the pro-business group’s members, Fallin reiterated her call for a cut to the state income tax rate and the graduation of more “job ready” residents. The governor says such cuts attract more jobs and companies to Oklahoma. But the evidence for such an economic boost is thin, according to a guest blog post for the Oklahoma Policy Institute by Oklahoma State University economist Dan Rickman.

Read more from KGOU.

Tax cut experiment leaves Kansans struggling

Ever since Kansas enacted substantial income tax cuts in 2012 and 2013, we have eagerly awaited the prosperity and Texas-sized job growth that we were promised would be spurred by these changes. Unfortunately, our efforts to be like Texas aren’t paying off for most Kansans. In fact, after two years of tax cuts: The vast majority of Kansans aren’t seeing their paychecks grow. Surrounding states that held the line on income taxes are doing better than Kansas. The jobs we are adding aren’t lifting Kansans out of poverty.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Bill raising Oklahoma trooper pay passes House subcommittee

State troopers and other Oklahoma Highway Patrol employees would be paid about 20 percent more if a bill passed Monday by a House subcommittee becomes law. Even with the adjustment, the OHP would still be only the sixth-highest-paying law enforcement agency in the state, Rep. Mike Jackson, R-Enid, told the Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety. Jackson’s House Bill 3098 proposes increasing the pay for cadet troopers from $33,192 to $40,760 a year and for beginning dispatchers from $26,750 to $30,771.70.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

See HB 3098 on the OK Policy bill tracker.

New bills would boost pay for Oklahoma teachers

The state House Appropriations Subcommittee for Common Education on Monday approved two bills designed to boost the pay of teachers. House Bill 2313, by state Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, would require that the salaries of Oklahoma teachers be adjusted annually to bring them up to the average of five surrounding states. Oklahoma’s average annual salary for the 2011-12 school year was $44,156, while the regional average was $48,222, Brown said. House Bill 2636 by Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, calls for Oklahoma teachers to receive a 3 percent salary increase for teaching five or more years in public schools where 90 percent or more of the students receive free or reduced lunches, and an additional 3 percent pay boost for teaching 10 or more years in those schools.

Read more from NewsOK.

See HB 2313 and HB 2636 on OK Policy’s bill tracker.

Study recommends performance-based pay raises for state employees

The days of across-the-board pay increases for state employees are likely over and lawmakers are likely to favor a performance-based system instead, a state employee association says. Tom Dunning, communications coordinator for the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, said such a transition would be consistent with recommendations in a recently completed state employee pay study. Released in December, the study found state employee pay lags behind that of comparable state governments and the private sector, but benefits for Oklahoma workers are significantly higher.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma workers rally against proposed pension changes

Waving signs and cheering, several hundred teachers, firefighters and state employees packed the state Capitol’s fourth- floor rotunda Monday to rally against proposed changes in the state pension system. State employees currently have a defined benefit pension, under which they are promised a certain monthly payment for life after they retire, providing they work enough years to become vested. The governor and Republican legislative leaders have been pushing to convert new public employees to a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan, under which the state and employees would contribute a percentage of each employee’s wages toward that person’s retirement. Each employee’s pension benefit would vary with investment returns.

Read more from NewsOK.

Senate committee passes abortion bill

Abortion clinics in Oklahoma would have to have a doctor on site who has admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic under the requirements of a bill passed by a Senate panel Monday. Senate Bill 1848, by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, now heads to the Senate floor. Treat and Grau were the authors of a measure that put restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs that was later tossed by the courts. The measure also would direct the Oklahoma State Department of Health to develop standards governing abortions, including “written instructions regarding post-abortion coitus, signs of possible complications, and general after care.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

A second anti-science bill in Oklahoma

A bill in Oklahoma that would, if enacted, deprive administrators of the ability to prevent teachers from miseducating students about “scientific controversies” is back from the dead. House Bill 1674 (PDF), styled the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act, was supposed to have died in the Oklahoma House of Representatives on March 14, 2013, when a deadline for bills to have their third reading in their house of origin passed. But it is now listed as available for consideration on the House floor in the afternoon of February 18, 2014. The first antiscience bill in Oklahoma for 2014, Senate Bill 1765, sponsored by Josh Brecheen (R-District 6), is currently before the Senate Education Committee.

Read more from the National Center for Science Education.

Quote of the Day

Morale among K-12 educators is at an all-time low. If your boss suddenly required a 25 percent increase in your workload, added performance assessments you have only some control over (a.k.a. TLE) that could result in your termination, and hadn’t given you a raise in seven years, would you start looking for another job or retire early? Large numbers of my colleagues, as many as 70 percent at one school site, have done so in the past couple of years.

-Ponca City teacher Marisa Dye (Source:

Number of the Day


Salary for a teacher with a Master’s degree and 25 years of experience in Oklahoma.

Source: Oklahoma Department of Education

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Older Americans are early winners under health law

For many older Americans who lost jobs during the recession, the quest for health care has been one obstacle after another. They’re unwanted by employers, rejected by insurers, struggling to cover rising medical costs and praying to reach Medicare age before a health crisis. These luckless people, most in their 50s and 60s, have emerged this month as early winners under the nation’s new health insurance system. Along with their peers who are self-employed or whose jobs do not offer insurance, they have been signing up for coverage in large numbers, submitting new-patient forms at doctor’s offices and filling prescriptions at pharmacies.

Read more from News9.

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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.

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