Here are our top priorities for Oklahoma’s 2017 legislative session

At OK Policy, our core mission is to encourage state policy changes that ensure responsible funding of public services and expanded opportunity for all Oklahomans. To that end, we’ve identified a number of policies as top priorities in Oklahoma’s 2017 legislative session. Together these measures would go a long way towards balancing the state budget with enough revenues to do the job that Oklahomans expect, and they would make the state economy work better for all Oklahomans.

You can read a summary of all of our priorities here, or go to the links below for more detailed explanations. As the legislative session progresses, we’ll update these pages with key bills and the best ways to take action to support each priority.

Fix the budget

  • Close the budget hole with sensible revenue options: To fix Oklahoma’s deep budget hole, we’ve put together a menu of recommended revenue options, with the best estimates available for how much new revenues they could bring in.
  • Halt the next income tax cut: Since another important strategy for getting out of this hole is to stop digging, we also are calling for halting an income tax cut that is scheduled to trigger as soon as revenues even slightly begin to recover.
  • Improve budget transparency: In past years, lawmakers have rushed through the budget in the final week of session with almost no chance for review by the public. The state budget is too important to be rushed through the Legislature with so little time for scrutiny and debate, so we’re calling on lawmakers to release the budget with at least one week’s time for public comments before they vote.

Fund core needs

  • Increase teacher pay: A professional, experienced teacher workforce is essential for high-quality schools, but Oklahoma has failed to pay our teachers a competitive salary. Oklahoma needs a plan to increase teacher pay that is backed by identified recurring revenue.
  • Protect access to health care: As a result of state budget shortfalls and potential federal changes, SoonerCare could face deep cuts that endangers health care access for more than a million Oklahoma children and adults. We must protect access to health care by maintaining SoonerCare as an efficient, effective source of health care coverage.

Improve financial security

  • Strengthen working family tax credits: Legislators should roll back cuts to the state Earned Income Tax Credit and/or expand the Sales Tax Relief Credit to make our tax system work better for all families.
  • Reform court fines and fees: Skyrocketing court fines and fees, with a flawed process for determining the ability of Oklahomans’ to pay these costs, are creating a cycle of poverty and incarceration that costs taxpayers even more than we are ever able to collect in fee revenue. Oklahoma needs reforms to reduce the burden of debt on those convicted of crimes and provide alternative for those who can’t pay.
  • Ban credit scoring in auto insurance: Major insurance companies have been using credit scores to determine a customer’s auto insurance rate, putting unfair burdens on Oklahomans who have good driving records but poor credit. The Legislature should join numerous states that have banned the use of credit scores to determine auto insurance rates.
  • Limit predatory loans: Predatory loans with exorbitant fees are trapping Oklahomans in a cycle of debt that is nearly impossible to break. Oklahoma should enact proven regulations to protect consumers from predatory lending practice and resist a lobbying effort to authorize new high-cost loan products.

As the Legislative session develops, check our advocacy alerts page to hear about ways to take action on these priorities. You can check the status of bills we’re following using our online bill tracker, and check out our other resources for staying informed and getting involved during the legislative session.


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

Leave a Reply

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