In The Know: Will more money come to education through the lottery? House approves measure that could generate $20M

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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Advocacy Alert

This morning, the Oklahoma House of Representatives is expected to take up HB 1913, a bill being promoted by the payday loan industry that would authorize a new loan product that could change 17 percent monthly interest. OK Policy is concerned that these loans would cause greater hardship on the most financially vulnerable Oklahomans. Please see our advocacy alert to learn more about the bill and how to contact your legislator.

Today In The News

Will more money come to education through the lottery? House approves measure that could generate $20M: After years of lobbying by the state lottery commission and education officials, the House agreed to change the way lottery revenue is allocated. The Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a measure that could generate about $20 million a year for education, although not necessarily teacher raises [Tulsa World]. Why didn’t the lottery solve Oklahoma’s education funding problems? [OK Policy]

North Tulsa, Panhandle lawmakers debate meaning of ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bill: State Rep. Casey Murdock, a Republican from the far western edge of the Panhandle at Felt, said it didn’t occur to him that a bill called “The Blue Lives Matter in Oklahoma Act” [HB 1306] might be interpreted as having racial overtones. Rep. Regina Goodwin, from Tulsa’s near north side, informed Murdock otherwise [Tulsa World].

Prosperity Policy: Whom do lawmakers represent? As they ran for office last year, Oklahoma lawmakers heard all kinds of concerns from the voters. They heard about the need to address rising class sizes and to pay teachers a better salary. They heard about the need to fix the budget, and to ensure better access to health care, and to provide support for our veterans and seniors. It’s a safe bet that no lawmaker heard from constituents that Oklahoma needs a new high-cost loan product that charges more than 200-percent annual interest [David Blatt / Journal Record]. See our advocacy alert on HB 1913 here.

Nine Oklahoma ‘hate bills’ under LGBTQ scrutiny: LGBTQ activists have tracked proposed Oklahoma bills and resolutions they say are discriminatory and have characterized as “hate bills.” The deadline for legislation to be passed out of committee was March 2 . If legislation did not survive committee, it is dormant. Such legislation cannot be advanced this year, but can be be heard again in committee next year [NewsOK].

DUI attorneys criticize bill that would criminalize breath test refusals: A bill that would criminalize refusing to take a breath test to determine if someone is intoxicated drew criticism Tuesday. Bruce Edge, a Tulsa attorney who specializes in DUI cases, knocked that provision and others in Senate Bill 643. Edge made his comments during a news conference to announce opposition to the bill as well as the filing of a lawsuit, which challenges a new set of administrative rules dealing with DUI arrests [Tulsa World].

All-in-one movie theater needs Legislature, governor’s approval: Dinner, a drink and a movie could soon be an all-in-one affair, if Oklahoma’s Legislature and governor approve [HB 2186]. A law change to make that possible is being pursued by an Oklahoma City land owner and developer, plus the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. They argue it would be a natural step to take as part of voters’ approval of State Question 792 [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Legislature considers banning left-lane driving: House lawmakers have voted to let law enforcement ticket drivers who stay in the left lane. The proposed bill [HB 2312] bans driving in the left lane unless it’s done to overtake and pass another vehicle. Drivers would also be able to use the lane when traffic conditions or road configuration require them to use that lane to maintain safety [NewsOK].

Official: OKC district could close schools to save money: Oklahoma City Public Schools could close schools and reconfigure grades at other schools in order to cut as much as $10 million from the district’s budget, Superintendent Aurora Lora said Wednesday. Last spring, the district cut $30 million in salaries, programs, services and supplies to counter the state’s projected budget deficit [NewsOK]. Oklahoma to rank worst in the nation for cuts to general school funding [OK Policy].

DPS commissioner warns of potential ‘crippling’ budget cuts: The commissioner of Oklahoma’s Department of Public Safety is warning of “crippling” effects if lawmakers move ahead with plans to slash funding, including the closure of two dozen driver’s license stations and four weeks of furloughs for employees. Commissioner Michael Thompson released a list Wednesday of some of the cuts his agency would be forced to make if his budget shrank by 15 percent [KJRH].

Oklahoma prisons cancel county jail contracts to cut costs: The director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is canceling contracts to house state inmates at county jails in a cost-saving move. Director Joe Allbaugh said Wednesday the agency is looking for ways to close a projected $3 million budget hole through June 30, the end of the fiscal year. It’s part of a revenue shortfall of $34.6 million due to lagging state revenues [KJRH].

Oklahoma treasurer sees some good news in revenue figures: Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller says he’s cautiously optimistic after overall collections to the state treasury last month were slightly higher than those from the same month last year. Miller released figures Tuesday showing it’s the second straight month of revenue growth following 20 months of contraction. Gross receipts to the state treasury in February totaled $759.5 million, which is about $1 million more than February of 2016 [Norman Transcript]. 

Oklahoma’s budget crisis requires new revenue (Guest post: Joe Dorman): In the last several weeks, a lot of eyes have been focused on Oklahoma’s $900 million budget shortfall and the effect it may have on our state. We have heard a lot of talk about revolving funds, off-the-top spending, structural imbalances and dozens of other terms capitol insiders use to describe the current budget crunch. All of that sounds complicated, but if you break down its major components, the state budget is not unlike the personal budgets that families manage [OK Policy].

Episode 4: Rep. Leslie Osborn on Budget Shortfall: A sobering, in-depth assessment of the state budget shortfall with House A&B Chair Leslie Osborn [Inside the House]. The State Equalization Board has certified $6.030 billion in available revenue for next year, which is $748 million less than this year’s initial appropriation [OK Policy].

Throwback Tulsa: Battle over ERA was highly emotional in Oklahoma: For 10 years, members of the Oklahoma Legislature were pushed and pulled, lobbied, threatened, bullied and harangued over one of the most emotional issues ever to come before them. The battle was fought from 1972 to 1982 over the Equal Rights Amendment. The amendment itself is quite simple: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” reads Section 1 [Tulsa World].

Staffer Alleges Widespread Sexual Harassment At State Capitol: “Maybe into my second week when I was kind of pulled aside, ‘don’t be alone with this member, don’t be alone with that member. This member will probably try and do this. This member does this, this member will tell you that,’” Jane said. Jane is a Legislative Assistant in the House of Representatives. She agreed to speak about claims of the sexual harassment made by staffers at the Oklahoma State Capitol [NewsOn6].

House Republican Health Plan Shifts $370 Billion in Medicaid Costs to States: In last week’s address to a joint session of Congress, President Trump promised that any changes to Medicaid would “make sure no one is left out.” The House Republican health care plan announced this week violates that promise. Its $370 billion in Medicaid cost shifts to states would jeopardize coverage and access to care for tens of millions of low-income people [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities].

U.S. Mayors “Seriously Concerned” Over GOP Healthcare Plan: House Republicans’ new plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is getting both praise and criticism from both sides of the aisle and now non-partisan group led by Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett has come out in opposition to it. The U.S. Conference of Mayors says they were left in the dark on the financial impact of the plan because the plan hasn’t been scored by the Congressional Budget Office [News9].

Across the Parched Prairie, Fires Scorch 2,300 Miles: Wildfires raging across four states, fanned by winds and fueled by drought-starved prairie, have killed at least six people and burned more than 2,300 square miles. Winds in western Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle were easing somewhat on Wednesday, but weather officials said that conditions were challenging for fire crews and were expected to worse on Thursday and Friday, renewing concerns about getting the fires under control [New York Times].

Quote of the Day

“I believe that there is a level of core services that the citizenry expects. And I think a lot of people are tired of the perception – and not only the perception but probably some amount of truth – that we’re 49th in everything. We always thank God for Kansas and Mississippi and whoever else. I don’t know that people are happy knowing that we’re funding everything at 49th – mental health care, education. I think that they might want to invest a little more to have a better level of services.”

– House Appropriations and Budget Committee Chair Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang), on addressing this year’s budget shortfall and the possibility of raising revenues (Source)

Number of the Day


Share of the Oklahoma labor force made up of unauthorized immigrants, 2014

Source: Pew Research Center

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Accounting for Violence: How to Increase Safety and Break Our Failed Reliance on Mass Incarceration: In the United States, violence and mass incarceration are deeply entwined, though evidence shows that both can decrease at the same time. A new vision is needed to meaningfully address violence and reduce the use of incarceration—and to promote healing among crime survivors and improve public safety. This report describes four principles to guide policies and practices that aim to reduce violence: They should be survivor-centered, based on accountability, safety-driven, and racially equitable [Vera Institute of Justice].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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