In The Know: Support grows for one penny sales tax increase

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

Support grows for one penny sales tax increase: An exclusive News 9/News On 6 poll shows growing support for a one penny sales tax increase that would fund education in Oklahoma. We asked more than 1,000 likely voters if they support or oppose a new one-cent sales tax, with the money going to fund teacher pay and other education expenses. Sixty-four percent say they would support the tax, up 7 points since November. Twenty-nine percent oppose the tax and seven percent have no opinion [News9]. Read our statement on the sales tax proposal here

​Oklahoma becomes ‘an intake state’ for disposal wells​: ​Wastewater produced by oil and gas exploration in other states may not be injected back into its land of origin but shipped out of state to areas like Oklahoma, state officials said. Oklahoma receives wastewater from Texas, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Arkansas, according to Oklahoma Corporation Commission reports [Enid News]. Arkansas successfully stopped its earthquake swarm by creating a moratorium area around the earthquakes where no new disposal wells could go in, and where all those that had been operating were shut down [News9].

No progress made in determining most quake-vulnerable Oklahoma buildings: Two years ago, Oklahoma set out to survey its most earthquake-vulnerable buildings. Today, state officials are no closer to knowing which of hundreds of public structures would be most likely to collapse during a severe temblor. A team of volunteer experts the state expected to perform the work never did, citing concerns they might be held liable should their predictions be inaccurate [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma lawmaker wants earthquake drills at school: Each year, students run through a series of disaster preparations, according to the Department of Education. They include two fire drills, two intruder drills, two tornado drills, two lockdowns, and two additional drills that are prescribed by local school officials. If a Democratic lawmaker from Oklahoma City has his way, another drill will be added to the mix — for earthquakes [Enid News].

After resignation of director, will Oklahoma keep improving juvenile justice system? (Capitol Updates): Generally beneath the radar screen, some potentially significant changes are underway for the Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA.) OJA provides prevention and treatment programs for delinquent children or those who may be at risk of becoming delinquent. . . . OJA provides services through community based prevention and treatment services, counseling, shelters, detention, probation, group homes, secure residential facilities and re-entry [OK Policy]. Steven Buck, a deputy commissioner for the state’s mental health agency, was announced as the new director on Friday [Associated Press].

So how much money did that record Powerball jackpot generate for Oklahoma education?: The rush to win last week’s record-breaking Powerball jackpot also sent extra cash to the state’s education system. The Oklahoma Lottery will send an extra $9 million to the Education Trust Fund because of the frenzy over a $1.5 billion jackpot. The Oklahoma Lottery Commission thinks its contribution this year will include a $10 million surplus [KGOU]. The lottery helps some, but the boost it provides is far less than what has been cut from other revenue sources in recent years [OK Policy].

Movement aims to educate parents about school choice policy, options: Two years ago, Renee Alvarado Porter became aware of an Education Savings Account bill at the Legislature. The proposal would have given parents a share of the per-pupil funding the state already allocates to educate a child, and allow them to use that money to choose any education option for their child, including private school [NewsOK]. Vouchers could damage Oklahoma’s common goal of providing a quality public education for all students [OK Policy].

Tulsa representative files measure to reform appraiser appointments: A bill filed last week by a Tulsa legislator addresses some of the issues surrounding the patronage appointment of sheriff’s appraisers. House Bill 1320, by Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, would require appointees to be licensed appraisers, and bans the hiring of appraisers who are close relatives of the appointing sheriff or sheriff’s office employees [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Academy recommendations include tax reform, budget transparency and Medicaid Expansion: The Oklahoma Academy has released policy recommendations and ideas for the Sooner State’s government. The resulting report was condensed from views of involved citizens, expressed at a series of town hall meetings across Oklahoma in the latter part of 2015 [CapitolBeatOK].

Cheap oil is killing Oklahoma’s economy: As oil prices continue to slide with no recovery in sight, the Oklahoma economy has begun to contract. Oil prices have fallen to 12 year lows, and the industry is undergoing its largest downturn since the 1990’s. Meanwhile, investment bank forecasts continue to become more bearish [Red Dirt Report].

New bills in legislature include increases to teacher salaries, minimum wage; shoring up state budget: Lawmakers have filed hundreds of measures in anticipation of the Feb. 1 start of the legislative session. Topics range from proposed increases to teacher salaries and the minimum wage to measures aimed at somewhat shoring up the dismal state budget through tax credit changes and consolidation [Tulsa World].

‘Catfishing’ bill would give Oklahoma victims legal recourse against online scammers: The Catfishing Liability Act of 2016 would allow people whose photos or videos are stolen to request an automatic injunction against the person using them. It would also allow those victims to request monetary damages. Jordan, R-Yukon, said the bill, which is House Bill 3024, is designed to give victims like Peccia some legal recourse where none exists now. Catfishing represents a legal gray area in Oklahoma state statutes, Jordan said [NewsOK].

A second antiscience bill in Oklahoma: House Bill 3045, styled the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act, is the second antiscience bill in the Oklahoma legislature for 2016, joining Senate Bill 1322. If enacted, the bill would require state and local educational authorities to “assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies” [National Center for Science Education].

GOP in Oklahoma should note two recent election results: Republican candidates in Oklahoma have gone 0-for-2 in recent special elections for seats in the Legislature, losing spots long considered safe for the GOP. What’s that mean exactly? It’s difficult to say. Sen. John Sparks, Democratic leader in the state Senate, said the two victories are “absolutely a trend,” telling The Associated Press that Republican policies “have been failures by any objective measure and the people of Oklahoma are obviously tired of it.” [Oklahoman Editorial Board].

Quote of the Day

“The earthquake legislation I’m doing is not earth-shattering. It’s making sure people know what do during earthquakes and make sure they’re well protected. It should never have been this hard to pass this piece of legislation. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but we need to prepare our children, the faculty, staff, administrators.”

-Rep. Mike Shelton, proposing a bill for the fifth straight year directing schools to perform earthquake drills (Source)

Number of the Day


Percent increase in Oklahoma home prices since April 2006, when the national market peaked. Nationwide home prices have fallen 12.8% since that year.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How many homeless youth are in America? Nobody knows: Nobody knows how many young people are homeless in the United States. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last year pegged the number of unaccompanied homeless youth at 45,000, but that’s widely acknowledged to be an undercount. The Department of Education says it’s more like 90,000, based on the number of students who self-identified as homeless during the 2013-2014 school year. Because there’s no universal definition for “youth” or “homelessness,” the actual number is anybody’s guess [Governing].

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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: Support grows for one penny sales tax increase

  1. What I don’t see in any of the sales tax proposals or discussions of it is any consideration of the money raised simply recreating existing funding, with the surplus being moved to other areas of the budget or to fund future tax cuts. (Googling “fungibility” is always fun, and using it in sentences impresses people at parties.) So education’s budget doesn’t really go up appreciably as hoped, and future policymakers, unbound by the presumed commitments, see only a single pool for functions being funded. This has been the lesson of “lotteries will be good for education” rationales in most states in the past, so it would help if someone in the media or (better) legislature would demonstrate that the effort is being made to make sure the new money is added on and not just substituted.

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