In The Know: State Lawmakers seek to Reassess Apportionment Spending

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

State Lawmakers Seek To Reassess Apportionment Spending: Billions of dollars in Oklahoma state funds are reserved for education, revolving funds and other costs. Called “apportionments,” these allotments are beyond the reach of legislators and can’t be changed. As the Journal Record’s Catherine Sweeney reports, State Representative Scott Fetgatter has requested an interim study on apportionments to assess how they help or hurt the state in a time of severe budget cuts. [KGOU]

Experts Divided On State Questions: Oklahoma laws affecting drug possession and a number of lower-level property crimes underwent significant revision on July 1, and proponents and opponents are still divided on their effect. Oklahomans approved two state questions 780 and 781 last November. Supporters say they will help low-level offenders get the help they need without burdening them with felony records, while opponents worry that they take away leverage that prosecutors formerly had and will overburden county jails. [Lawton Constitution] SQ 780 should save Oklahoma millions next year [OK Policy]

House interim studies include alcohol taxation, care for veterans and location of wind turbines: Oklahoma House members will spend the time between legislative sessions studying alcohol taxation, care for veterans and the location of wind turbines near military airfields, among other topics. House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, on Friday approved 63 interim studies after receiving requests for 136. The deadline for Senate interim study requests is July 14. [Tulsa World]

Is It A Tax? A Fee? Some Historical Perspective: Following the 2017 Oklahoma Legislative Session, several lawsuits have emerged challenging the constitutionality of revenue raising measures. Laws in question include the $1.50 cigarette fee, 1.25 percent sales tax increase on vehicles, among others. An attorney who successfully argued against the constitutionality of a 2010 health care fee says the current lawsuits have similarities to the case he won seven years ago. [KGOU]

Fallin seeks federal aid after May storms including EF2 tornado in Muskogee: Gov. Mary Fallin is seeking federal disaster aid for 16 Oklahoma counties affected by severe storms and tornadoes in May. Storms that swept across the state May 16-20 caused extensive flooding, power outages and dangerous travel conditions in the counties. Thirty-eight tornadoes were reported, including three EF2 tornadoes near Elk City, Hanna and Muskogee. One death and multiple injuries were attributed to the storm. [Tulsa World]

Conservative lawmakers think cuts to food stamps won’t hurt anyone. Evidence says that’s wrong: A conservative member of the House of Representatives has a proposal for how to help pay for Republicans’ tax cut plan: Slash food stamps and welfare spending by harshening eligibility requirements. The Heritage Foundation projects this proposal, put forward by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) of the House Freedom Caucus, could result in more than $200 billion in cuts over the next 10 years — the deepest cut to the social safety net since 1990s welfare reform. [Vox] SNAP is working to feed Oklahoma’s children [OK Policy]

Halfway through tamer 2017, Oklahomans in ‘earthquake country’ can expect more similar to prior 5.0s: Oklahoma’s earthquake frequency has dipped below early 2014 levels, but the state seismologist cautions against complacency because there’s still a “significant chance” for one similar to the 5.0 quakes that rattled state residents previously. This year Oklahoma has recorded 145 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater through June 30. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma House to study how to implement medical marijuana if state question were to pass: Lawmakers in the interim will take a look at how to implement the legalization of medical marijuana should it pass in 2018. Oklahomans for Health successfully circulated an initiative petition to put the issue before voters. It is assumed State Question 788 will be on the Nov. 6, 2018, general election ballot, but Gov. Mary Fallin has yet to issue a proclamation declaring an election date, according to the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office. [Tulsa World]

Homeless move into tiny houses in McKown Village: Reginald Goosby threw open the door to his new cottage and welcomed visitors with open arms. “I am overwhelmed. This is so beautiful. Come in, come in and look around,” Goosby said. Until June 30, the day Goosby was handed the key to his new home, he had been living on the street. [The Oklahoman]

Tax Policy Outside of the Emerald City: In the aftermath of the Great Recession, numerous states cut taxes with the hope of spurring economic growth. The expected gains, however, have rarely come to fruition. Instead of leading states to the promised land of robust growth, the tax cuts have undermined state revenues, weakened public services, and in some cases, resulted in lower credit ratings. [Bloomberg BNA] Kansas experiment yields valuable lessons [OK Policy]

Oklahoma County outpaces nation on most STDs: Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise across Oklahoma County, with the highest number of cases reported in five ZIP codes on the east side of Oklahoma City, according to data recently released by the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. Infection rates for chlamydia in Oklahoma County are 70 percent higher than the national average, and many health officials think cases are underreported. [The Oklahoman]

Two agencies plan back-to-school immunizations in August: Several local agencies are hosting back-to-school immunization efforts in August. Keeping current on immunizations is a requirement under Oklahoma law for those enrolling in schools or childcare facilities. The first effort sponsored by the Rogers County Health Department will be held from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2, at 2664 N. Highway 88. [Claremore Daily Progress]

Quote of the Day

“Just because a person battles addiction does not mean they’re a bad person. They need help. Jails across Oklahoma have become the largest mental health providers in the county and in the state. The problem is jails are not designed, nor equipped, nor staffed to provide mental health care.”

-Kris Steele, Chairman of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, speaking about the importance State Questions 780 and 781 in making our approach to drug crime more effective (Source)

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s ranking out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia for Health System Performance.

Source: Commonwealth Fund

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

It’s no surprise that the Kansas tax cut experiment failed to create jobs: A supermajority of Kansas legislators last week voted to roll back Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) signature tax cuts, overriding his veto. The tax cuts, enacted in two stages in 2012 and 2013, caused a recurring series of budget crises and cutbacks that angered voters and in turn spurred a bipartisan coalition of legislators to reverse several of their most harmful elements. Proponents of the tax cuts argued that they would unleash economic growth and job creation. Yet as numerous subsequent analyses demonstrate, the promised economic growth did not materialize. Tax revenues fell sharply. Job growth and output growth disappointed. Population growth, whether as a cause or consequence of the economic growth, failed to materialize. Finally, last week, state legislators recognized the experiment’s failure and reversed course. [Washington Center for Economic Growth]

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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