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Chicken-Fried News: Oklahoma nightmare

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  • Fried chicken drumstick in isolated white background

Let’s say you are an avid follower of Oklahoma politics but fell and hit your head when leaving the Capitol tunnel after Gov. Mary Fallin’s State of the State Address on Feb. 6. Let’s say the fall knocked you into a coma. More than four months later, you emerged from unconsciousness with questions burning in your mind.

You: Did the teachers get their raise?

Chicken-Fried News: No. There were bills proposed both in the House and Senate. House-approved legislation calling for a $1,000 teacher pay raise died in a Senate committee. The state’s budget bill includes no appropriations for a teacher pay increase. Maybe next time?

You: Meh. Well, did lawmakers work toward modernizing the state’s sales tax structure?

CFN: Don’t you worry! The great news is you can still get your car washed, get inked with a new tattoo and pick up your dog from the groomers and not pay any sales tax on any of it! But buy a car, new or used, and you will see an extra 1.25 percent sales tax on your bill of sale.

You: Hmm. Well, if I look on the bright side, it’s not like I can afford a car anyway. Maybe I should just go to debtors’ jail. I kid! I kid! But seriously, Oklahoma has the highest female incarceration rate in the nation and the second-highest incarceration rate overall — did lawmakers work on criminal justice reform?

CFN: Sorta. There was work, like Senate Bill 689, which would allow judges and prosecutors more options in diverting people from prison to treatment. However, that bill and three other criminal justice reform measures fell victim to a House committee chairman (cough Rep. Scott Biggs), who refused to hear the bills in the final days of the session.

You: What about that cigarette tax?

CFN: Yeah! No. So it’s not a tax, but a fee. It passed on the last day of the session. Expect to pay an extra $1.50 for a pack of cigarettes.

You: So, what about that budget hole? Did lawmakers fix it all? I mean, they spent all those hours at the Capitol and the budget was a huge priority and all that.

CFN: You’re going to need to lie back down.

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