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Oklahoma Unemployment Continues to Increase

Posted by Bob Sands on

State lawmakers used to brag about Oklahoma's low unemployment rate. Last month that rate came in at 4.7 percent tied with the national rate. The number of jobless is up by 10,000 workers with more than 7,000 dropping out of the work force. The bright spot for workers were job increases in education and health services and the construction industry.

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Budget Rebates may be in Order

Posted by Bob Sands on

The budget cuts because of mid-year revenue failures in state government tax collections went too deep, leaving the state with a fiscal year end surplus. It now stands at over $166-million dollars but will likely finish the current fiscal year around $120-million. That means state agencies budgets will get some money back. How much is not yet known

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Governor Headed for New York City

Posted by Bob Sands on

Governor Mary Fallin is taking several people with her this week on a trip to the nation's top credit rating agencies. Specifically she has invited two legislators along for the ride because she wants them to, as she puts it, understand the nuances rating agencies consider when analyzing Oklahoma's budgeting.

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OHP using Card Scanners to Seize Assets

Posted by Bob Sands on

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has deployed scanners that can seize money from prepaid debit cards from people they suspect of being drug traffickers. The discovery of the scanners has set off a fire-storm of protest with calls for an end to the use of the devices.

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State Revenues Continue to Fall

Posted by Bob Sands on

Revenue collections at the state treasury last month hit a six year low. State Treasurer Ken Miller says every major revenue stream for state government came in lower than expected. That is the 9th month in a row that gross receipts to the state treasury were lower than the same time a year ago.

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Energy Companies want Earthquake Lawsuit Dismissed

Posted by Bob Sands on

The lawsuit was filed by the Oklahoma Sierra Club against several Oklahoma energy companies who own saltwater disposal wells suspected of causing earthquakes. The suit seeks to force the companies to lower injection volumes. Devon Energy Corp. says it selling off the disposal wells at issue and all the companies argue the Corporation Commission is already dealing with induced earthquakes.

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Oklahoma Legislature Finishes Work for the Year

Posted by Bob Sands on

By a narrow margin, the Okllahoma House voted for the FY 2017 budget. That was the last piece of major legislation for the session. The senate adjourned for the year several hours earlier.

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Oklahoma Senate Adjourns but House Still in Session

Posted by Bob Sands on

The last bill the Oklahoma Senate dealt with for the legislative session was a $200-million bond deal to fund road and bridge projects. In return for the bond money the Department of Transportation will give back $200-million to help plug the $1.3-billion budget hole. The Senate has recessed for the year but the House is still arguing over the budget.

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2017 State Budget Under Debate

Posted by Bob Sands on

The Oklahoma House of Representatives has begun final work on the new state budget. It's a spending plan that contains major budget cuts, some new revenues, borrowed money, rainy day money and funds from agency revolving funds.

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Budget Deal Reached

Posted by Bob Sands on

A deal on a fiscal year 2017 state budget has been made between legislative leaders and the governor. Senate Bill 1616 began working it's way through the process just today. Lawmakers have until this Friday at 5:00 pm to finish their work. The budget keeps common education & corrections funding flat, a slight increase for health care and mental health.

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Bag of Prison Goodies Found by Authorities

Posted by Bob Sands on

A pair of inmates turned up missing from the Jim Hamilton Correctional Center in eastern Oklahoma. They were later found hiding on the grounds of the minimum-security prison. A short distance away prison guards found three duffel bags full of contraband. including, 30 pounds of pipe tobacco, a half pound of marijuana, cell phones, lighters, cognac, mouse traps, electrical tape and sports bras.

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Oklahoma Senate Votes to Dump Energy Tax

Posted by Bob Sands on

By a wide margin, the Oklahoma Senate approved a bill to end the tax break for "at risk oil wells". The OIPA was backing a proposal to cap the tax break at $25-million a year but the senate bill eliminated the tax break all together and made it retro-active to the first of this year. If the House approves, that would bring in an estimated $133-million dollars a year.

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Broadcasters get Green Light to sue for Mixon Video Tape

Posted by Bob Sands on

The Oklahoma Supreme court rules that broadcasters can sue for the release of surveillance video that involves O.U. running back Joe Mixon striking a woman in a bar. The court ruled that Cleveland County Judge Thad Balkman was wrong to rule that the video could not be released since it had been played in court. It was also shown in a private viewing to numerous reporters.

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More Mid-Year Budget Cuts Unlikely

Posted by Bob Sands on

The flow of tax money to the states General Fund, the one that pays most of the bills, again missed the estimate by a long shot. April fund contributions came in 12.8% below what was expected or $89.4 million. But state Finance Director Preston Doerflinger says he thinks there is enough cushion in the fund to avoid any more cuts to state agency budgets.

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April was a Bad Month for Oklahoma Tax Collections

Posted by Bob Sands on

Gross receipts to the state treasury last month were the lowest in four years. Every tax income category was down. For the last 12 months the state lost $846-million compared to the previous 12 month period. Gross production tax collections on oil and gas are now at a 17 year low.

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