In The Know: State officials ponder another Oklahoma income tax cut

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 officials ponder another Oklahoma income tax cut: Officials are expected to determine this week whether the state had enough growth revenue to trigger an income tax cut. The top income tax rate could drop to 4.85 percent from 5 percent. Most taxpayers are in the top rate due to the structure of the state’s tax brackets. The top tax rate kicks in at $7,200 of taxable income for a person filing as single and $12,200 for a married couple filing jointly. The Board of Equalization meets Wednesday in the Capitol to determine how much revenue Gov. Mary Fallin will have to craft her executive budget, which serves as a suggestion for lawmakers [Tulsa World].

Legislature facing difficult choices: Last year at this time the running joke, which drew more knowing looks than guffaws, was people claiming, “All I want for Christmas is higher oil prices.” Santa has been a little slow to deliver, but one statistic from the U.S. Energy Information Administration offers a little bit of hope. According to a reported released Wednesday, oil companies reported positive earnings from their upstream (exploration and production) operations for the third quarter. That’s the first time that’s happened since the fourth quarter of 2014 [Editorial Board / Journal Record].

Embattled Oklahoma state schools superintendent prepares for a challenging road: State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister bowed her head, took a deep breath and delivered a prepared statement to a room full of cameras on what had just become the toughest day of her young political career. On Nov. 3, Hofmeister was charged with four felony counts of campaign fundraising violations and conspiracy. She is accused of colluding with a dark money group during her 2014 campaign, when she rode a wave of educator backlash against an incumbent who had become cross with Oklahoma’s so-called education establishment [NewsOK].

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate improves slightly: Oklahoma’s unemployment rate improved by a tenth of a percentage point last month, the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission show. Seasonally adjusted data supplied by the bureau shows Oklahoma’s number of unemployed fell by about 2,000 in November compared to the month before, from 95,032 to 93,055. It put the percentage of unemployed Oklahomans in November at 5.1 percent [NewsOK].

Five Workforce Centers Shut Doors Across Oklahoma: Monday, five Workforce Centers shut down due to federal budget cuts. Centers were closed in Sand Springs, Claremore, Sallisaw, Stilwell and Holdenville. Everyday dozens of people trickle through the workforce doors, looking for help with filing unemployment claims and getting back to work. But Monday, movers worked to pack up the old Workforce Center in Claremore, and many people are frustrated [NewsOn6].

Oklahoma liquor stores sue over wine in grocery store law: Oklahoma liquor store owners have filed a court challenge to State Question 792, the ballot measure that will legalize wine sales in grocery stores in 2018. The Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma and Joseph P. Richard, who owns Cache Road Discount Liquor and Wine in Lawton, filed the lawsuit against the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission on Monday in Oklahoma County District Court. Richard and the liquor store owners group are seeking a court order to stop the Oklahoma ABLE Commission from implementing the many changes to state alcohol laws that are part of SQ 792 [NewsOK].

Oklahoma should join other states that have removed personal exemption from vaccine form: More and more states have stopped allowing parents to cite personal reasons for not getting their children vaccinated. Oklahoma still gives parents that option, although with any luck that exemption will come off the books sooner rather than later. State Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, tried during the 2016 session to end the personal exemptions, as 32 other states have done. The session saw parents, many wearing T-shirts that read “Oklahomans for Vaccine Choice,” pack the room when a Senate committee voted to kill Yen’s bill [The Oklahoman Editorial Board].

Proposal would create special gun laws for the political elite: Statewide elected officials and members of the congressional delegation would be allowed to carry guns anywhere in the state under a proposal pending before the Legislature. If they take a handgun qualification course, the governor, members of Congress and secondary elected state officials would be exempt from state laws regulating where guns can be taken, under the proposal by state Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate. That would mean they would be able to take their guns into the state Capitol, into prisons, into bars, into private businesses that ban concealed handguns, into college football and NBA basketball games … or as the proposal puts it, “anywhere in the state of Oklahoma.” [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Dangerous crossings: Making downtown Oklahoma City streets safer for pedestrians: Christmas tunes were playing on the radio, my son and his friends were laughing and enjoying the holiday lights along Automobile Alley and the evening outing to go snowtubing at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark was destined to become a cherished memory. And then the evening almost took a tragic turn. Two people darted out of my way and I quickly swerved to avoid hitting them. The road was dark. The crossings are not marked. These are not excuses. I am ultimately responsible for how I, as a driver, respond to the road conditions in front of me [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“State officials cannot bank on oil returning to its 2014, $100-per-barrel peaks, even though the financial line graphs are beginning to turn upward. Nor can it rely on one-time cuts to fix what has become a chronic revenue crisis. There will be difficult choices this year, and they cannot all be in the form of agency cuts. Legislators must address the revenue side and eliminate every incentive that hasn’t produced a quantifiable benefit.”

-The Journal Record Editorial Board (Source)

Number of the Day


Estimated share of non-elderly Oklahomans with pre-existing conditions for which insurance coverage could be declined under pre-Affordable Care Act health insurance practices, about 706,000 people

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Obamacare repeal could be biggest 2017 tax cut for wealthy: The big winners in Republican plans to repeal Obamacare are likely to be the rich. Rescinding the Affordable Care Act means not only taking away health coverage from some 20 million Americans. It also means scrapping two big tax increases Democrats imposed on the wealthy to help pay for it all. Republicans are likely to ax those taxes on the earnings and investments of those making more than $250,000 — and not replace them — in what some predict will prove the biggest tax cut of next year [Politico].

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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.

One thought on “In The Know: State officials ponder another Oklahoma income tax cut

  1. Cut taxes for the rich and raise taxes on the poor…

    Has its ups and downs,
    sometimes ups outnumber the downs,
    But not in Nottingham…

    -Roger Miller

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