In The Know: Still no budget agreement days before special session

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

Still No Budget Agreement Days Before Special Session: The governor is ordering the legislature to return to session Monday to fill a roughly $215 million budget shortfall. But as of right now, there’s no plan. The state faces the shortfall after the Supreme Court struck down a last minute tobacco tax passed by republicans after negotiations broke down with democrats. Democrats refused to support the tobacco tax without an increase in the gross production tax; that is, the tax on the production of oil and natural gas. [News9] Lawmakers have good revenue options for special session if they have the will to use them [OK Policy]

Oklahoma Democrats eyeing statewide vote to raise oil, gas tax rate: After repeated calls to raise the tax rate on oil and gas production to 7 percent, Democrats in the Oklahoma House said they might next push for a statewide vote. Raising the tax rate is part of House Democrats’ own budget plan, but despite pressure from both inside and outside the Capitol, Republican leadership has rejected those ideas. [The Oklahoman] How much new revenue will ending oil and gas tax breaks bring in? [OK Policy]

State’s New Education Plan Calls for Big Strides: Reducing schools’ use of emergency certified teachers by 95 percent and boosting high school graduation to 90 percent are some of the goals set by the state Education Department in its plan for education under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The state also proposes attacking hunger in schools and is considering forcing failing schools that are on a four-day school week to change their calendar. [Oklahoma Watch]

New Law Gives Oklahoma More Responsibility In Finding And Fixing Failing Schools: Many people say the former massive federal education law, No Child Left Behind, was a failure. When President George W. Bush signed it in 2002, he set a huge goal for the country: Every child would meet the proficiency standard on state tests by 2014. But, that never happened. [StateImpact] However you count it, Oklahoma’s per pupil education funding is way down [OK Policy]

State asks appellate court for rehearing of decision in murder case involving tribal jurisdiction: The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office on Thursday filed a request for a rehearing of a federal court ruling that it claims could fundamentally change criminal and civil law in the state if not overturned. [Tulsa World]

Fallin discusses criminal justice reform: In a talk that was part personal and part policy, Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday discussed criminal justice reform during an afternoon event centered on incarcerated women. “The more we talk about this as a nation, the more we can help change the laws and change legislation,” she said. [The Oklahoman] Justice Reform Task Force recommendations could be the solution Oklahoma desperately needs [OK Policy]

The special session, thoughtful ideas and Oklahoma’s future: With just over 15 months left in office, term-limited Gov. Mary Fallin isn’t much interested in taking no for an answer. She is demanding her party’s sizable statehouse majority devise a long-term fix for the state’s perennial budget crises when it returns to special session Monday. No Band-Aid approach this time – only triage. [Arnold Hamilton/Journal Record]

Oklahoma Ranks Among The Poorest States In The U.S.: The Annual Population Survey conducted by The U.S. Census Bureau for the 2016 year showed mostly positive news for the country. The survey found that the median household income rose significantly from 2014 to 2016. Unfortunately, the state of Oklahoma did not find itself reaping the benefits of this upward trend. [News9] New Census data shows Oklahoma fell further behind the U.S. on poverty and uninsured rate in 2016 [OK Policy]

Without DHS child care subsidy, many parents can’t work or get training: A month or so ago, we were all reading about the cuts to Oklahoma foster and adoptive parents’ subsidies because of budget failures (Full disclosure: I’m a foster/adoptive parent, so the cuts affect me). However, child care was even more drastically affected by the budget crunch, and child care, or the lack thereof, is a huge factor for workforce development. [Shelley Cadamy/Tulsa Business & Legal News]

Echols working to reinstate tax exemption for trucks: One day before Gov. Mary Fallin announced her intent to call a special session, a high-ranking Republican issued a news release calling for a trucking industry tax exemption. House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, is working to amend the tax law created in House Bill 2433. That measure nixed a sales tax exemption on all auto sales, effectively raising upfront taxes on those by 1.25 percent. [Journal Record]

Want justice? Fund Legal Aid: From our very beginning, America has proclaimed to the world that we are a land of liberty and justice for all, and our legal system has served as a model for most of the free world, but the promise of equal justice for all of our citizens still has not been fully realized. In the majority of civil cases filed, one or the other of the parties will not have legal counsel simply because they cannot afford a lawyer. [Molly Aspen & David Riggs/Tulsa World]

Federal nutrition programs merit support: Hunger isn’t a political issue, it’s a humanitarian one. Everyone deserves to eat. The devastating floods from recent hurricanes remind us how quickly our situation can change. With 47 percent of Americans living paycheck to paycheck with little to no savings, the risk of hunger is closer to many of us than we realize. [Katie Fitzgerald & Eileen Bradshaw/The Oklahoman] Block grants for Medicaid and SNAP could wreck America’s safety net [OK Policy]

Officials kick off Feeding Oklahoma Drive: More often these days, the wind on the prairie out here shifts to the north and there is a little chill to it. For some, it means an exciting changing of the season where fall decor adorns shop fronts and there is a sense of celebration in the air. For others though, it is a time when the gap between having and not having enough seems wider some how. [Woodward News] At the intersection of hunger and health [Effie Craven/OK Policy]

Quote of the Day

“If [Speaker McCall’s] willing to let the voters decide on an increase in the cigarette tax, then we think he ought to let voters decide on an increase in the gross production tax, as well.”

– House Democratic leader Scott Inman announcing that his members will file bills to calling for a legislative ballot initiative to restore the gross production tax to 7 percent if the legislature does not do so in special session (Source)

Number of the Day


Average student loan debt of students graduating from four-year institutions in Oklahoma, 2015.

Source: Prosperity Now

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to Care: Has the Affordable Care Act Made a Difference?: Between 2013 and 2015, disparities with whites narrowed for blacks and Hispanics on three key access indicators: the percentage of uninsured working-age adults, the percentage who skipped care because of costs, and the percentage who lacked a usual care provider. Disparities were narrower, and the average rate on each of the three indicators for whites, blacks, and Hispanics was lower in both 2013 and 2015 in states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA than in states that did not expand. [The Commonwealth Fund]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.