Matt Trotter

Reporter

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN. 

He has a master's degree from Arizona State University, where he spent a semester on the first reporting staff of Cronkite News Service's Washington, D.C., bureau. As a grad student, he won awards for multimedia journalism and in-depth TV reporting.

Matt is from Southern California, so he's slowly following Route 66 across the United States. He would have made it Chicago by now, but he's not a fan of long drives.

Ways to Connect

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Oklahoma House narrowly missed the three-fourths majority needed for a revenue bill to fill the state’s $215 million budget hole.

With 76 votes needed to send the measure to the governor, the final vote was 71–27. "Yes" votes came from 48 Republicans and 23 Democrats. "No" votes came from 22 Republicans and five Democrats.

Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine moved a step closer Wednesday to leading the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Bridenstine’s nomination to be the next NASA administrator came up for a vote before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where he faced a contentious hearing a week ago.

A 14–13 vote fell strictly along party lines in the committee, sending Bridenstine's nomination to the full U.S. Senate.

Wikimedia

Oklahoma lawmakers’ inability to pass a special session budget fix has not gone unnoticed.

A new report from credit ratings agency Moody’s called the lack of a permanent fix after nearly six weeks “credit negative.” Oklahoma has had a credit negative outlook from Moody’s since 2015, and that won’t improve until lawmakers start passing balanced budgets with recurring revenue.

Lankford's office

Oklahoma U.S. Sen. James Lankford said Special Counsel Robert Mueller must be able to finish his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

State Senate

 

In a late afternoon meeting Monday, the Oklahoma Senate amended a special session House budget bill to make it into a long-awaited "grand bargain" to fill the state's $215 million budget hole — then passed the bill.

Senate leaders discuss agreement.Senate leaders talk to Capitol press following Monday's 37-5 vote on bipartisan revenue bill. Pictured are Appropriations Vice Chair Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona; Appropriations Chair Sen. Kim David, R-Porter; Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus; and Majority Leader Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City.Credit State SenateEdit | Remove

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation got approval Monday to issue bonds for its contribution to funding to finish the Gilcrease Expressway.

ODOT may issue up to $70 million in bonds for the project in anticipation of federal grants to INCOG. The bonds will be issued in the spring of 2018, making funding for the project available before the federal grants are available.

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Oklahoma’s state government has had its day in court several times over the past few years to defend new laws from constitutional challenges.

Attorney General Mike Hunter maintains all that litigation is not costing taxpayers a dime.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

There’s a lot of progress being made on the north side of A Gathering Place for Tulsa.

The 28,000 square foot Williams Lodge is really coming together now.

Oklahoma Watch

With Oklahoma leading the nation in addiction to prescription painkillers, OSU announced Friday it's establishing the Center for Wellness and Recovery.

There will be clinical and research components.

"We will create statewide access to addiction and pain treatment services, and we'll recruit national experts in the treatment of pain and addiction, and to conduct cutting-edge research in neuroscience, addictive psychology and pain management," said OSU Center for Health Sciences Dean Dr. Kayse Shrum.

KWGS File photo

As Oklahomans wait on the state House to come up with a plan to fill a $215 million budget hole, the Senate is also looking for ways to give the state more money.

The Senate Rules Committee passed a bill Thursday to cut the refundable portion of coal tax credits starting Jan. 1, 2018. The credit is for the purchase of Oklahoma-mined coal to use in utility or industrial purposes, or for coal-mining companies. Sen. Josh Brecheen said while the change won’t have an impact for awhile, it needs to be addressed in special session.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Besides recognizing accomplishments of the past year, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announced several new plans Thursday in his first state of the city address.

The city will push state lawmakers next year to eliminate a provision in the education funding formula that takes away state funding if local governments spend property taxes on things like boosting teacher salaries or hiring more teachers.

The Oklahoma House passed a bill Wednesday to end gross production tax incentives on thousands of oil and gas wells on Dec. 1, but they didn’t do so without controversy.

House Bill 1085 would bring in an estimated $50 million this year and $100 million next year by ending incentives on 6,600 horizontal wells drilled before June 30, 2015.

Republicans rejected Democrats’ repeated attempts to amend the bill to cover all existing wells, saying that would require a three-fourths majority. Rep. Cory Williams said there’s no difference.

file photo

Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine’s nomination hearing Wednesday to be the next head of NASA went beyond his technical qualifications and management ability.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, the ranking member on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, detailed a trend of Bridenstine taking extreme positions, whether in opposition to LGBT rights, former President Obama or even more moderate members of the GOP.

What will the GOP tax reform bill coming out tomorrow look like? Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas has some predictions.

Speaking at a Tulsa Regional Chamber forum, Lucas said the plan is still to double the individual income tax deduction from $12,000 to $24,000. But, a hefty border adjustment tax that would have paid for many other benefits in the legislation has become politically unpopular.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Following a change in focus announced by the majority leader Monday, an Oklahoma House committee passed Tuesday two revenue measures requiring only simple majorities.

The House Rules Committee also passed a plan to give Oklahoma teachers a raise, albeit a smaller one than called for at the start of special session.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

State lawmakers pushed back Monday against recent criticism over their support of the Terence Crutcher Foundation.

Sen. Kevin Matthews said since Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton questioned his citation to recognize Crutcher’s life and foundation, he’s received several calls and emails saying he shouldn’t support a man who was a criminal and a drug user.

"As though that warranted not only the death sentence he received, but that we should not … help others through a foundation bearing his name," Matthews said.

Rep. Regina Goodwin also signed the citation.

The Oklahoma House went rogue Monday to make up for some of the cuts health and human service agencies are facing with the state’s $215 million budget hole.

House members passed four bills Monday allocating a total of $107 million in Rainy Day and carryover funds to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and Department of Human Services. The measures are not part of the Republican budget plan announced a week ago that stalled in committee Friday on a tie vote.

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Dozens of people celebrated their graduations Friday from intensive treatment programs designed to keep people struggling with mental health or addiction out of jail.

The Community Service Council COURTS Program had more than 50 graduates. Thanks to drug court, Rhonda McCoy has a stable life after fighting addiction for 20 years. She said addicts share a common burden.

The Oklahoma House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget deadlocked 11–11 Friday on a new special session budget bill.

House Bill 1054 came a day after the Senate passed a resolution directing the House to pass a budget bill with a 4 percent tax on new oil and gas wells. It also included a $1.50 cigarette tax, a 6 cent increase in gas and diesel taxes, and increased taxes on tobacco products and low-point beer.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Oklahoma Senate told the House Thursday enough is enough — it’s time to pass a special session budget deal, and that means an increase in the gross production tax.

State senators approved a resolution by voice vote telling the House not only to pass a budget deal as soon as possible, but also what to put in it. The resolution calls for a $1.50 per pack cigarette tax, a new tax on other tobacco products, a 6 cent fuel tax increase, a higher tax on low-point beer and a 4 percent tax on new oil and gas wells.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services announced Wednesday how it will slash $69 million from its budget to make up for funding lost when the cigarette tax was struck down.

Oklahoma House Minority Leader Scott Inman announced he is no longer running for governor — and he’s resigning from the legislature at the beginning of 2018.

Inman made the announcement on Facebook and Twitter Wednesday afternoon as the House debated Republicans’ $442 million plan to fix the state budget.

Inman did not vote Wednesday on Republicans’ budget proposal and was only briefly on the floor to ask questions about it.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A budget deal announced Monday by Oklahoma’s Republican leaders fell short Wednesday on its House vote.

The final vote on the package of tax increases on tobacco products, fuel and low-point beer was 54–44, leaving it short of the three-fourths majority needed.

Several Democrats asked to add gross production tax increases to House Bill 1035 on the floor of the House. Rep. Emily Virgin’s request for a 5 percent gross production tax was rejected by 66 of the House’s 72 Republicans, and the other six didn’t vote.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

State lawmakers advanced a Republican revenue package in special session Tuesday, but its passage in the full House and Senate is no sure thing.

House Bill 1035 includes $1.50 cigarette tax and 6 cent gas and diesel tax increases, raises taxes on other tobacco products, and expands mixed beverage taxes to low-point beer. It's estimated to be worth $184 million this year and more than $442 million next year.

Robert Scoble

The Oklahoma Supreme Court overturned Tuesday another fee lawmakers passed at the end of regular session.

More than two months after hearing arguments, the justices have struck down annual registration fee increases of $30 for hybrid and $100 for electric cars.

"Here, what you see is not that it’s trying to exact a general taxation for the benefit of the general public but, rather, a specific fee in exchange for the services the state provided," state General Counsel Abby Dillsaver argued in August.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Union dedicated its first phase of Ellen Ochoa Elementary School on Monday and welcomed its namesake to Tulsa for the ceremony.

Dr. Ellen Ochoa, the current director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, was the world’s first Latina astronaut. Union’s Ellen Ochoa Elementary is the sixth school in the U.S. named for her.

KWGS File photo

Oklahoma claims a large share of the $30 billion U.S. tribal gaming industry.

An analysis commissioned by the American Gaming Association finds Indian casinos in the state accounted for $8.7 billion in sales and 66,000 jobs.

"And that's not to mention the nearly $2.2 billion in tax revenue and the $3.6 billion in employee wages that go to those 66,000 employees across the state," said AGA's Steve Doty.

Pixabay

Whether it’s moderate or severe, a financial stress test finds Oklahoma is not prepared for the next national recession.

Moody’s Analytics’ study says states need at least 10 percent of their budgets in reserve funds to weather a moderate recession, and 16 for a severe one on par with the Great Recession.

Oklahoma has about 4 percent saved, making it the third-worst prepared state for an economic downturn, behind North Dakota and Louisiana.

Amazon

Tulsa is among the dozens of cities vying for Amazon HQ2, the company's $5 billion second headquarters and its promise of up to 50,000 high-paying jobs, but it could come at a cost to current residents.

A study by Apartment List estimates existing renters would see rents rise through the roof.

"That's especially true for lower-income renters who may be already struggling and just barely making ends meet, and if their rents are increasing another 2-plus percent a year, they'll really struggle," said research associate Sydney Bennet.

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