Week In Review
For the week of Monday, February
2, 1998 - Thursday, February 5, 1998
Monday, February 2nd
- The Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives
formally convened the second session of the 46th Oklahoma Legislature. The
session will conclude at 5:00 P.M. on Friday, May 29th.
- Governor Keating issued the annual state of
the state address to a joint session of the Oklahoma Legislature. The Governor
announced his 1998 legislative agenda, listing four top priorities: 1) Hog
and Chicken Industry Regulation; 2) Truth-in-Sentencing; 3) Education; 4)
Tax Cuts. Among other things, the Governor has proposed a one-year moratorium
on hog and chicken facility licensing, an overhaul of truth-in-sentencing,
school vouchers and a $777 million income tax cut.
- Senate leaders raised questions about the Governor's
tax cut program, citing concerns about available revenue and existing commitments
to road construction and prison expansion. According to the State Equalization
Board, there is $160 million in growth revenue available for appropriation,
but Senate numbers indicate there are approximately $184 million in existing
commitments. The two big ticket items are prisons costs and highway construction.
Tuesday, February 3rd
- Backers of the corporate hog industry rallied
at the State Capitol, urging Governor Keating to drop his call for a one-year
moratorium on the licensing of hog facilities. The Legislature is considering
several proposals that would place stricter regulations on the industry.
- Senator Darryl Roberts questioned some of the
methods used to balance the executive budget offered by Governor Keating.
The executive budget is based on the assumptions that the Oklahoma Tax Commission
can collect an additional $16.5 million from taxpayers by working harder,
that "purchasing reform" will save the state $13 million and that $44 million
intended for state pensions can be used as general revenue. Senator Roberts
said he is opposed to raiding the pension funds.
- The Senate Finance Committee approved the nomination
of Jerry Johnson for the position of Oklahoma Tax Commissioner.
- The House Higher Education Committee rejected
an amendment that would have given Langston University a four-year campus
in Tulsa. Langston is currently part of a four-school consortium called Rogers
Wednesday, February 4th
- Senator Keith Leftwich and Senator Herb Rozell
held a public hearing on their proposals to bring drivers' education back
into the public schools. The legislation on the subject would offer incentives
to schools encourage drivers' ed courses.
- Contracts finalizing the merger of University
Hospitals and Columbia HCA were signed at the State Capitol.
- A Senate analysis requested by Senator Cal Hobson
indicated Governor Keating's proposed income tax cut would disproportionately
reward wealthy Oklahomans. According to the analysis, more than one-third
of the tax relief would go to just 5 percent of the taxpaying population,
those who make more than $100,000 a year.
Thursday, February 5th
- The House and Senate met briefly before adjourning
for the weekend.
Economists are forecasting continued economic growth
for Oklahoma this year. According to the 1998 Oklahoma Economic Outlook report
by Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma will continue its trend of outpacing
the national average in employment growth.
OSU researchers predict state employment will grow
by 2.2 percent, slightly ahead of the forecasted national growth rate of 1.9
percent. That translates into a net increase of 30,000 additional jobs. Oklahoma
City is projected to grow by 2.3 percent; Tulsa by 2.9 percent. The growth will
help keep unemployment low.
Retail spending is up in Oklahoma. During the month
of January, spending rose by 3.8 percent over the same period the previous year.
According to Telecheck, Oklahoma City's retail spending increased by 4.6 percent;
Tulsa's rose by 2 percent.