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Capitol Insider

Fridays at 5:45 p.m. and Mondays at 7:45 a.m.
  • Hosted by Dick Pryor

A weekly feature produced by KGOU in partnership with eCapitol, an Oklahoma City-based legislative news and bill tracking service. KGOU general manager Dick Pryor talks to eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley, elected officials and newsmakers about legislative matters in the state of Oklahoma.

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[UNFILTERED] /Elizabeth Sims

On Friday, April 6, Oklahoma legislators passed two more revenue bills in addition to the $447 revenue package they hoped would prevent a teacher walkout this week.

One requires third-party vendors on Amazon Marketplace to collect a sales tax. The other, the so-called "ball and dice" bill, changes rules for casinos to generate revenue. Both passed, although the ball and dice bill will not take effect immediately. They now head to Gov. Mary Fallin.

Oklahoma state Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017.
Sue Ogracki / AP Photo

Teachers are preparing to walk out of the classroom starting April 2, and several legislators have proposed plans to avoid the work stoppage. One in particular, proposed by former teacher Sen. Michael Bergstrom, R-Adair, would raise pay for both teachers and state employees.

Capitol Insider: Another Teacher Salary Plan, But No Way To Pay For It

Mar 16, 2018
Sue Ogrocki / AP Images

Oklahoma lawmakers are searching for more ways to raise revenue as spring break begins and a teacher walkout looms on the horizon.

David Longstreath / AP Photo

A successful teacher walkout in West Virginia has brought the topic of teacher pay to the forefront of public conversation. However, leaders at the Oklahoma Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, says the impending shutdown of Oklahoma schools has been the the works for some time. And it’s happened in Oklahoma before.


Sue Ogrocki / AP Images

The Oklahoma House of Representatives announced on Tuesday that it will choose one chaplain to lead its daily invocations for the rest of the legislative session.  

Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo

The Oklahoma State Senate has approved a bill to balance the books for the current fiscal year and close out the second special legislative session. The bill that originated in the House cuts the annual budgets of all state agencies by 0.66 percent. However, since the money will be cut only in the remaining four months, agencies will have to shed 1.9 percent of monthly budgets.

Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo

After the Step Up Oklahoma package of revenue-raising bills failed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives Monday, a message on the plan’s website read, “Step Up Oklahoma’s effort has run its course” and that fixing the state’s financial problems is worth continued deliberations.

However, in a press conference following the bill’s defeat, House Speaker Charles McCall said the negotiations were final, saying, "We've made it very clear: This was the final package we would consider."

Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo

Oklahoma state lawmakers returned to the Capitol this week and are working to wrap up the second special session, which means voting on revenue-raising measures.

eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley reports the Senate and House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget approved many of the suggestions proposed by the group Step Up Oklahoma.

 

Storme Jones / KGOU

When Gov. Mary Fallin addressed lawmakers in her first State of the State speech in 2011, she implored them to fix a $600 million hole in the state budget. Seven years later, in her final State of the State address, the legislature is faced with a similar task: filling an estimated $425 million gap in the budget.

 

Storme Jones / KGOU

When Gov. Mary Fallin addressed lawmakers in her first State of the State speech in 2011, she implored them to fix a $600 million hole in the state budget. Seven years later, in her final State of the State address, the legislature is faced with a similar task: filling an estimated $425 million gap in the budget.

Storme Jones / KGOU

As Oklahoma lawmakers prepare for the start of the 2018 legislative session on Feb. 5, they’ll be met with the familiar issues of filling an estimated $425-million budget hole, giving teachers a pay raise, reducing prison overcrowding and maintaining the state’s infrastructure.

Storme Jones / KGOU

As Oklahoma lawmakers prepare for the start of the 2018 legislative session on Feb. 5, they’ll be met with the familiar issues of filling an estimated $425-million budget hole, giving teachers a pay raise, reducing prison overcrowding and maintaining the state’s infrastructure.

Former Republican Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Kris Steele says it’s time for lawmakers to put statesmanship over partisanship.

Storme Jones / KGOU

State Rep. Josh Cockroft says he was surprised at the lack of financial oversight in agencies like the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

In an interview with Capitol Insider’s Dick Pryor and Shawn Ashley, Cockroft, who is chairing a special investigative committee looking into the health department, said the committee has received more than 60 tips about mismanagement across multiple state agencies.

“It's concerning. You would never run a business like that,” Cockroft said.

 

AP Photo

State Rep. Josh Cockroft says he was surprised at the lack of financial oversight in agencies like the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

In an interview with Capitol Insider’s Dick Pryor and Shawn Ashley, Cockroft, who is chairing a special investigative committee looking into the health department, said the committee has received more than 60 tips about mismanagement across multiple state agencies.

“It's concerning. You would never run a business like that,” Cockroft said.

Storme Jones / KGOU

State Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, is the Democratic Caucus Chair for the Oklahoma House of Representatives. She says the last year at the state capitol was “the most grueling and intense and frustrating,” of the seven years she has been in office. 2017 may be over, but remnants of last year’s legislative challenges continue.

Capitol Insider: New Year, Same Budget Issues

Jan 6, 2018
Dick Pryor / KGOU

 

Oklahoma lawmakers are still in a special session looking to find additional revenue, one month before the next regular session is scheduled to begin. Gov. Mary Fallin called the special session last month, asking lawmakers to provide additional funding for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and the State Health Care Authority. The legislature appropriated funds for the health agencies but have not yet found a way to prevent future budget shortfalls.

FILE PHOTO

Melissa McLawhorn Houston was appointed Oklahoma Labor Commissioner by Governor Mary Fallin after Commissioner Mark Costello was murdered by his son in 2015.

 

Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Melissa McLawhorn Houston was appointed Oklahoma Labor Commissioner by Governor Mary Fallin after Commissioner Mark Costello was murdered by his son in 2015.

State representatives Scott Inman, D-Del City, and Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, debate on the Oklahoma House floor on May 27, 2016.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The primary work of the second legislative special session of the year is over.

On Friday afternoon, Governor Mary Fallin signed SB0001XX and SB0002XX to provide supplemental funding for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services to get the agencies through April. The Senate passed the bills on Wednesday and the House of Representatives passed them on Friday, without any no votes, to send them to the governor.

File / AP Photo

 

 

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is requesting a one billion-dollar increase in funding. DOC officials say the funding is long overdue.

The $1.53 billion budget includes plans to increase staff pay, build two new medium security prisons and expand rehabilitation programs aimed at reducing recidivism rates.

DOC Spokesman Matt Elliott told KGOU, some state prisons are in need of things like locks and sewage system repairs.

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