In The Know: With state facing $868 million budget hole, revenue will fall short of triggering income tax reduction

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 Know will be taking a break for the holidays and return on January 3rd. Early-bird registration is now open for our 2017 State Budget Summit. In addition, we’re hiring a policy analyst and spring research interns. 

Today In The News

With state facing $868 million budget hole, revenue will fall short of triggering income tax reduction: The state, facing an $868 million budget hole, will not have enough growth revenue to reduce its top income tax rate to 4.85 percent, Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger said Tuesday. His comments came in advance of a meeting Wednesday of the State Board of Equalization, which will certify how much money will be available for Gov. Mary Fallin to prepare her fiscal year 2018 executive budget proposal. The board will revisit that figure in February [Tulsa World]. Read our statement on the revenue shortfall for 2017 [OK Policy].

Sexual harassment complaint against Oklahoma legislator settled in secret: A fired legislative assistant and her attorneys were secretly paid $44,500 in state funds in November to settle her sexual harassment complaint against a state representative from Tulsa, records show. Hollie Anne Bishop, 28, complained Rep. Dan Kirby, 58, began sexually harassing her shortly after she started working for him in January 2015. She complained she was fired without explanation on Nov. 20, 2015, in retaliation for reporting the harassment. She accepted a $28,414.20 payment, online records show. Her Edmond attorneys accepted a $16,085.80 payment [NewsOK]. Rep. Kirby has remained silent on the accusation amid calls for his resignation [Tulsa World].

Short on revenue, Oklahoma’s governor eyes taxes on cigarettes, tattoos and car washes: Looking at a budget hole approaching $900 million, Gov. Mary Fallin and her finance officials said Wednesday they likely will ask the Republican-dominated Legislature to do something that goes against conservative orthodoxy — approve new taxes. Top state officials, who have been saying for years that Oklahoma has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, now say the state simply has to take in more money if it is to adequately fund government priorities like public safety, health and education [NewsOK].

Finance secretary on state’s $692M hole: No ‘cutting your way out of this’: State leaders are expected to certify a $692 million estimated budget shortfall for the 2018 Fiscal Year, according to numbers announced this afternoon by Oklahoma Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger. Doerflinger called media together at 2 p.m. today on the second floor of the State Capitol, and he read a litany of numbers comparing state-income source estimates to previous years. He noted that the use of one-time funds to fill last year’s budget gap helped kick the state’s financial can down the road for this year [NonDoc].

State employees: Budget needs to be lawmaker’s only priority: The state secretary of finance said the budget deficit will be more like $868 million. These are the numbers lawmakers will have to tackle when they get back to work for the new session in February. The Oklahoma Public Employees Association says the budget should be the priority in that session. Lawmaker usually don’t tackle the budget until the final weeks of work [KOKH].

Prosperity Policy: ‘Repeal and delay’ would disrupt health care for millions: Even before the new Congress convenes in January, health care coverage for millions of Americans, including hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans, will be at stake. Since the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) went into effect, more than 190,000 Oklahomans have gained health insurance due to the new individual insurance market with subsidies to keep insurance affordable and the provision allowing young Americans to stay covered on their parents’ plans through age 26. These measures have reduced Oklahoma’s uninsured rate by over one-quarter, to 13.9 percent in 2015 from 18.9 percent in 2010, despite our state’s refusal to cover the lowest-income adults through Medicaid [David Blatt / Journal Record].

Fallin doesn’t expect offer to join Trump administration: Gov. Mary Fallin said Wednesday she does not think President-elect Donald Trump will tap her for a job in his administration. When asked by The Oklahoman whether she would agree to a request to serve in Washington, D.C., she said, “I don’t anticipate getting an offer, so, no.” Fallin met with Trump on Nov. 21 in New York as he considered candidates for Interior secretary [NewsOK].

Reflecting national trend, death sentences and executions decline in 2016: The state of Oklahoma will not carry out an execution in a calendar year for the first time since 1994, and seven months after a grand jury evaluation of the practice, it remains unclear when executions will resume. However, a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that stemmed from an Oklahoma death-row inmate’s appeal could give others the chance to receive new reviews of their cases [Tulsa World]. to start collecting taxes for online sales in Louisiana:, the giant online retailer, will begin charging Louisiana customers sales taxes on Jan. 1, the head of the Department of Revenue said Tuesday. Revenue Secretary Kimberly Robinson said in an interview her department hasn’t calculated how much money would be raised from charging taxes on sales over the Internet, but estimated that tens of millions of dollars could be added to Louisiana’s often depleted coffers. “This isn’t going to fill the deficit, but it is going to help,” said Robinson, who has been meeting with business leaders around the state to lobby for an overhaul of a fiscal system that year after year fails to come up with enough revenues [The Advocate].

New program offers to take back unused medicine: Lisa Hladik’s customers can now return unused or expired products at her business. The co-owner of Razook’s Pharmacy in Stillwater is one of four local companies and five chain pharmacies that are participating in a medicine take-back program, sponsored by the state’s environmental regulator and a national consumer sustainability group. The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality unveiled the program on Tuesday. The agency is sponsoring the six-month pilot program with the nonprofit Product Stewardship Institute [Journal Record].

Quote of the Day

“For those who say that we don’t have a revenue problem, I will say this, ‘You don’t have to say it with words because your actions are showing it.’ If you have to use a half a billion dollars every single year in your budget to spend more than your recurring revenues will allow, that shows a revenue problem.”

-State Treasurer Ken Miller, on the revenue shortfall for next year (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of women legislators in the upcoming 2017 Oklahoma legislative session. Only Wyoming will have a smaller share of female legislators in 2017 (11 percent, versus Oklahoma’s 13 percent)

Source: Oklahoma Watch

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

American Dream collapsing for young adults, study says, as odds plunge that children will earn more than their parents: Rising income inequality has eroded the ability for American children to grow up to earn more than their parents, according to a new study from a team of researchers that could carry deep implications for President-elect Donald Trump’s policy agenda. The research from a group led by Stanford’s Raj Chetty, and also including economists and sociologists from Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley, estimates that only half the children born in the 1980s grew up to earn more than their parents did, after adjusting for inflation. That’s a drop from 92 percent of children born in 1940 [Wonkblog / Washington Post].

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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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