All articles by Gene Perry

In The Know: Oklahoma’s school testing system disrupted for second time in two years

by and | April 22nd, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that standardized testing was suspended for 8,100 students after the private contractor HTB/McGraw-Hill’s technology failed to perform. It was the second year in a row that technology problems disrupted testing. Schools are unsure when testing will resume. State Superintendent Janet Barresi said she will recommend that the State Board of Education not renew the contract of CTB/McGraw-Hill. Jenks Middle School Principal Rob Miller wrote that taking up every computer in schools with testing is unnecessarily disruptive when pencil and paper tests work just fine.

Oklahoma Policy Institute is now accepting applications for our paid summer internship and the Summer Policy Institute, a three-day intensive workshop featuring speakers on a wide range of state policy issues. Sheriffs in rural counties across Oklahoma are worried about a potential plan to remove state inmates from their jails, because they rely on the money they get for holding them. The Oklahoma Legislature is considering giving state corrections workers their first raise in eight years.

Animal welfare advocates are concerned after the Legislature approved sending to a vote of the people a measure that would ban regulation of how farmers raise crops and animals. The New York Times and The Atlantic reported on how two of Oklahoma’s highest courts  are in conflict over whether two men should be executed before state officials have to disclose basic information about the drugs used to carry out the executions. The Tulsa World reported that nearly half of Oklahoma children placed in Department of Human Services custody were taken from homes where drugs were used or sold.

Independent candidate Joe Sills has been removed from the ballot for Oklahoma governor because a guilty plea to a felony 14 years ago disqualifies him from running. The election board also removed a Republic state Senate candidate from Lawton who pleaded guilty to crimes in Kansas. An organization that wants to place storm shelters in Oklahoma’s public schools says it’s abandoning the initial effort and will launch a second petition. KGOU reported on what happened to the millions of pounds of debris after last year’s most devastating tornadoes in central Oklahoma.

 The Number of the Day is How much CTB/McGraw-Hill was paid this year to conduct Oklahoma school testing, which has been disrupted by technology problems for the second year in a row. In today’s Policy Note, Demos shares data on how the United States does not have much different rates of  unmarried parents and single mothers as Northern Europe, but we have much higher rates of child poverty.

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In The Know: Oklahoma may need to use old workers comp system for years

by and | April 21st, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that cases begun under the old workers compensation system must continue under that system, which means Oklahoma could be running two workers compensation systems for decades. The old system, now called the Court of Existing Claims, has about 100,000 active cases. 

With six weeks left in the 2014 session, behind-the-scenes negotiations among the House, Senate and governor’s office are ramping up on how to plug a $188 million hole in the budget and fund programs for education, public safety and child welfare. Talks are centering around cuts to state agencies and drawing down agency reserves. OK Policy previously laid out seven options for Oklahoma to responsibly balance the budget without severe cuts to services, but so far lawmakers have not acted on any of them.

Oklahoma is about to get a report card on the progress of court-ordered improvement to the child welfare system, and state leaders expect the grade to be poor. Oklahoma Corrections Professionals director Sean Wallace wrote that the situation in Oklahoma’s overcrowded, understaffed prison is not getting any better. Oklahomans have been paying for a new online court records system with a $15 increase in all court filing fees since 2007, but so far it is only available in one county. A wrongfully convicted Tulsa man was released after 17 years in prison. Since a Tulsa police corruption scandal came to light, nearly 50 prisoners have been released or had sentences modified due to civil rights violations or problems with their cases.

Researchers from Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma who have analyzed and tested Oklahoma’s A-F school grading system say it needs an overhaul, but lawmakers don’t seem to be listening. State Superintendent Janet Barresi wrote an op-ed defending Oklahoma’s third-grade reading retention law. Seattle-area school administrator Robert Neu has been named the new superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools. The Huffington Post discussed how Tulsa and other areas of the country are making strides in offering high-quality preschool.

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent in March, but the decrease was more due to Oklahomans dropping out of the labor force than an increase in jobs. Okc.net fact-checked Governor Fallin’s defense of her ban on minimum wage increases. Tulsa World editor Julie Delcour wrote that the Legislature’s attempts to change how the judges who ruled their bills unconstitutional are nominated is a naked power grab. The Mustang school board has voted to offer an elective class on the Bible using a curriculum developed by Hobby Lobby president Steve Green.

The Number of the Day is the increase in leisure and hospitality sector jobs in Oklahoma since March 2013, more than one-third of all new jobs in Oklahoma over the past year. In today’s Policy Note, the Alaska Dispatch reports that since Alaska switched state employees from a defined benefit to a defined contribution pension system, the state’s unfunded liabilities have nearly doubled. Oklahoma lawmakers are considering a similar switch, and OK Policy has previously explained how it could increase unfunded liabilities and the cost to taxpayers.

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Fact Sheet: Investing In Education Is Key For Growth And Job Creation

by | April 17th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Education, Featured Education | Comments (0)

Download this fact sheet as a PDF.

“Years ago, I often heard companies say the cost of doing business was their No. 1 concern. During my time in the Tulsa Regional Chamber and now as secretary of state, I am increasingly hearing from employers who say that an educated workforce, supported by strong public education, is the most important factor in deciding where to locate or expand.”

-Secretary of State Chris Benge

Highly educated states have more productive residents with higher incomes.

  • education-and-wagesWith few exceptions, the states where workers earn the highest wages are the states with the most college graduates, while states with the lowest median wages are those with the fewest college graduates.
  • Despite our state’s recent economic successes, Oklahomans’ wages lag well behind the national average. Oklahoma’s median wage in 2010 was $14.73 per hour, which was $1.27 below the national median wage and lower than all but 10 other states. At 22.7 percent, we rank 42nd in percentage of the population with a bachelor’s degree or more.
  • In multiple surveys, businesses in Oklahoma and nationally rank the presence of a skilled workforce as more important than state and local tax rates when considering where to create new jobs.

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In The Know: Senate passes measure to help third-graders who don’t pass reading test

by and | April 17th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:


Today you should know that the Senate passed a measure (HB 2625) that allows students who don’t pass a third grade reading test to be promoted to the next grade if they have unanimous support from a team of parents and educators. The bill now returns to the House to consider Senate amendments. NewsOn6 reported that some parents are looking into opting their kids out of standardized testing, but it can have the same consequences as failing the test. House Democrats increased calls for boosts in Oklahoma’s education funding.

David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed why legislators now seem to face the impossible choice of supporting good roads or good schools. The Tulsa World editorial board wrote that it’s time for state leaders to take a more realistic look at Oklahoma’s legitimate needs and rethink the rush toward a tax cutThe OK Policy Blog discussed how Oklahoma Medicaid faces severe cuts if lawmakers do not find more revenue.

A new Tulsa County health profile shows wide disparities in health between different zip codes, with north Tulsa showing worse numbers diabetes, obesity, tobacco use and mortality than suburbs south of Tulsa. NewsOK reporter Jaclyn Cosgrove spoke with Dr. Eric Beck about the obstacles to providing emergency care in rural versus urban areas. The Tulsa World questioned why a bill to prevent doctor-shopping for prescription drugs is being blocked by a House committee chair.

Tensions between the state House and Senate came out into the open as House members debated a Senate request to take Thursday off so senators could take a four-day Easter holiday. Rep. Mike Turner, a 27-year-old first-term state representative from Oklahoma City who is running to replace James Lankford in Congress, leads in fundraising after putting $500,000 of his family’s money into his campaign. Under a bill waiting to be signed by Governor Fallin, Oklahoma residents who produce their own energy through solar panels or small wind turbines on their property will now be charged an additional fee. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board approved a $50.3 million loan to the city of Norman for improving it’s water treatment plant, the single largest loan the board has made.

The Number of the Day is how much Oklahoma needs to increase funding for SoonerCare, Mental Health, and the Department of Human Services just to maintain existing services. In today’s Policy Note, Stateline discussed how some states are seeking to crack down on for-profit colleges that mislead students about their financing, recruitment practices and graduates’ employment rates.

continue reading In The Know: Senate passes measure to help third-graders who don’t pass reading test

In The Know: March revenues down 9.1 percent after major increase in corporate tax credit claims

by and | April 16th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that general revenue collections fell 9.1 percent below the estimates in March. The shortfall creates a possibility that all state agencies will face  mandatory budget cuts this fiscal year. Corporate income tax revenue fell especially low due to a major increase in corporate tax credit claims. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed how growing tax breaks and mandatory spending are causing budget shortfalls even though the economy is growing. OK Policy’s newly updated Budget Trends and Outlook fact sheet summarized key points on the budget.

 In an Oklahoman op-ed, Rep. David Dank argued that Oklahoma needs to rein in corporate tax credits to fund education. The House voted down a bill that would reimburse businesses at 105 percent of the cost of tuition and materials for their employees seeking further education. The bill has previously passed the Senate, and the House author, Rep. Elise Hall, said she may bring it back for another vote. The House approved a state trooper pay raise bill and sent it to Governor Fallin. The bill does not specify pay increases, but it repeals the existing pay scales and calls for troopers to be paid in accordance with a study that found they are making 14 percent less on average than their counterparts in other states.

On the OK Policy Blog, we shared 5 things in 5 charts that everyone should know about Oklahoma taxes. Supporters of a higher minimum wage in Oklahoma are considering other options after Governor Fallin and the Legislature banned cities from increasing their minimum wage higher than the state’s. A bill that would restrict the use of abortion-inducing drugs passed the state Senate by a vote of 37-5. A similar measure approved by the Legislature in 2011 was thrown out by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Oklahoma’s attorney general has filed an anti-discrimination lawsuit against a Miami restaurant owner over allegations of sexual harassment of employees. The suit is the first legal action filed by the newly formed Office of Civil Rights Enforcement.

The House approved a bill to allow the state Department of Human Services to contract out child welfare investigations and case work. State Superintendent Barresi spoke out against a bill to reduce the number of mandated state tests. She argued that Oklahoma schools won’t teach history and geography if there’s not a standardized test for those subjects. A new church-sponsored program in Tulsa is housing women recovering from drug addiction. Rep. Joe Dorman is challenging the candidacy of Independent Joe Sills because he pled guilty to a felony 14 years ago.  Oklahoma law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony from holding a public office for 15 years after their sentence is completed. The Tulsa World editorial board congratulated Oklahoma’s many unopposed election winners. The Oklahoman wrote that counties across the state aren’t being funded adequately to maintain bridges.

The Number of the Day is Oklahoma’s ranking out of all fifty states and the District of Columbia for the share of personal income going to state and local taxes. In today’s Policy Note, the Brookings Institute shared new data on how tax credits targeted to low- and moderate-income working families are helping Americans in every Congressional district.

continue reading In The Know: March revenues down 9.1 percent after major increase in corporate tax credit claims

5 things you should know about Oklahoma taxes

by | April 15th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (0)

Photo by Martha Soukup used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by Martha Soukup used under a Creative Commons license.

It’s tax day — the annual event when procrastinators, or those who just like to live on the edge, rush to get their tax returns filed before the midnight deadline. If your return is safely filed, or if you just want another excuse to procrastinate, here are 5 things in 5 charts that everyone should know about Oklahoma taxes.

1. Oklahoma state and local taxes are among the lowest in the nation

Trying to compare taxes between states can get very complicated very fast. State and local governments have different kinds of taxes at different rates kicking in at different income levels. One state may have higher sales tax rates, but it may be applied to a much smaller base if groceries or other common purchases are exempt. Property taxes often have numerous exemptions and caps, and they can fluctuate based on the housing market.

But we do have one way to more easily compare overall taxation — we can look at the total taxes paid as a percentage of personal income. This shows that as of 2011, Oklahomans’ paid the 48th lowest taxes in the nation out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Oklahomans paid about 8.4 cents in taxes per dollar of income, ahead of only Alabama, Tennessee, and South Dakota. Even before the tax cut that took effect in January 2012, we paid less than all of our neighboring states.

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In The Know: Gov. Mary Fallin signs minimum wage hike ban

by and | April 15th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that Governor Mary Fallin has signed a bill that bans cities in Oklahoma from increasing the minimum wage or vacation and sick-day requirements. A petition in Oklahoma City has been seeking to allow citizens to vote on increasing the citywide minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The Journal Record editorial board wrote that Governor Fallin’s push to cut taxes while Oklahoma faces budget shortfalls is unwisely focused on ideology over practicality.

The OK Policy Blog discussed how Oklahoma’s lack of adequate budget planning is hurting our ability to make wise decisions for our future. A total of 57 current legislators, and one Claremore man who was the only one to file for an open seat, with take office without an election challenge this year. Tulsa World editor Mike Jones wrote that low turnout in primaries and non-presidential years is leading to government by radicals.

The standardized testing system in Oklahoma schools appears to be avoiding as many glitches as last year, but in at least one Broken Arrow middle school, students are unable to log on. KGOU reported on how junior high kids who attended the elementary schools that were destroyed in Moore tornadoes last year are struggling to find resources to help them deal with the trauma. Yesterday the National Weather Services issued its first tornado warning in Oklahoma since May 31, beating a record for the longest amount of time between tornado warnings.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is beginning a series of public forums on health for minority communities in Oklahoma. The first will be Monday at Morton Comprehensive Health Services in Tulsa. The Health Department is also hosting a community meeting tomorrow at the Community Service Council to learn what Tulsa residents believe are their most critical health needs. NewsOK reporter Carla Hinton spoke with same-sex couples in Oklahoma about the importance of a right to marry.

The number of people in Oklahoma seeking treatment for heroin and opiate use has increased in recent years, but the drug still accounts for a small percentage of narcotics cases. The City of Tulsa is offering the public a chance to get rid of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted medications at a drug-take-back event on April 26. The House approved a bill to prohibit sex offenders from entering a neighborhood, town, county or state park.

The Number of the Day is the median hourly wage for food preparation and serving workers in Oklahoma City. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post reports on new projections showing the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of insurance coverage will cost $104 billion less than projected over the next decade, and premiums will be cheaper than previously thought.

continue reading In The Know: Gov. Mary Fallin signs minimum wage hike ban

In The Know: Races for state superintendent, governor draw most candidates

by and | April 14th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that races for governor and state superintendent have drawn 7 candidates each. A 20-year-old is running for House District 91 in Oklahoma City, becoming the youngest candidate ever to run for the Oklahoma House. He is one of 6 candidates who filed to run for the open seat being vacated by term-limited Rep. Mike Reynolds. 

State lawmakers are considering tinkering with the way Supreme Court justices and appellate court judges are selected. The current system of a Judicial Nominating Commission chosen by the governor and the State Bar Association was created after a bribery scandal rocked Oklahoma’s Supreme Court 50 years ago. Lawmakers have proposed taking power to elect commission members away from the Bar Association and giving it to legislative leadership.

Oklahoma Republican Representative Doug Cox spoke to Rolling Stone about why he thinks his party has failed on women’s issues. On the OK Policy Blog, former House Speaker Steve Lewis compared his memories of the 1990 rally for education with what he saw at the recent rally on March 31. Don Millican, the Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. CFO and an OK Policy board member, wrote in the Tulsa World that Oklahoma is flying blind without any long-range fiscal planning for state budgets.

The state Ethics Commission is investigating the association that regulates high school athletics for possibly violating lobbying disclosure rules. In an interview with Oklahoma Watch, Oklahoma City physician Hal Vorse said prescription drug abuse is one of the major public health issues of our time. The legal fight over Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage will be heard in a federal appeals court this week.

Advocates of people with disabilities will rally at the state Capitol on Thursday for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day. OK Policy previously discussed the nearly decade-long waiting list for Oklahomans with developmental disabilities to get at-home care from the state. The Tulsa World published a profile of teacher Sherri Knight, who is going into the Tulsa Jail to help young prisoners get an education. Oklahoma’s Quapaw Tribe has become the first Native American tribe in the country to lead the cleanup of a federal hazardous waste site, on land that is part of the Tar Creek Superfund Site.

A new Web-based platform to which state health care providers can connect to share medical records of patients and provide better transitional care is scheduled to go live April 22. The city of Tulsa will avoid laying off employees this fiscal year, but a fund set aside for future natural disasters may be needed to balance the upcoming budget. Accidents in state construction areas are up by 170 percent since 2004, with 17 people killed in work zone fatalities in 2013.

The Number of the Day is how many candidates for the Oklahoma House and Senate are running unopposed in 2014. In today’s Policy Note, a report by the Pew Research Center examines how two big demographic transformations are changing America.

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In The Know: Sen. Sparks out as choice for minority leader after backing tax break for wells

by and | April 10th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that Senator John Sparks has been replaced as minority leader-elect after a column was published under his name backing continuation of the rapidly growing tax break for horizontal wells. Sen. Randy Bass is now set to replace Sen. Sean Burrage, who is not seeking re-election. Read more about the tax break for horizontal drilling here.

Gov. Fallin and all five members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation seeking re-election were among the hundreds of candidates who filed for state or federal office on Wednesday. Democratic state Rep. Joe Dorman of Rush Springs and Richard Prawdzienski, a Libertarian-leaning independent from Edmond, also filed to run for governor on the first of a three-day filing period. You can see a list of all candidate filings so far here. Since announcing his Senate candidacy just after this legislative session began, former House Speaker TW Shannon has missed 305 of 385 votes in the House.

The OK Policy Blog explained what’s in a bill (HB 2642) that would create automatic off-the-top funding increases for education in future years and may redirect spending from transportation. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed efforts to give decisions over whether children repeat the third grade back to parents and educators. Oklahoma Senators Coburn and Inhofe are asking that the U.S. Department of Education stop tying federal grants to the implementation of Common Core standards.

A House committee passed a bill that would change how Oklahoma appoints judges. Under the bill, lawyers on the Judicial Nomination Commission would be appointed directly by legislative leaders instead of being elected by the Oklahoma Bar Association. A bill to use $40 million from the state’s unclaimed property fund to help pay for the completion of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City was approved in House Committee. The committee also approved a $160 million bond issue to repair the state Capitol. Wayne Greene discussed a pending court decision that could increase Oklahoma’s $188 million budget shortfall by another $450 million.

Governor Fallin is asking for federally subsidized loan assistance for businesses that have been damaged by the temporary closure of the bridge that links Lexington and Purcell. Bounty hunters will be licensed to carry weapons, pursue fleeing felons into private homes and wear “bail enforcer” badges under new rules approved by the state. An Oklahoma appeals court is denying a request for stays of execution by two inmates who are scheduled to die this month with a new three-drug procedure developed by the state.

The federal government paid 35 Oklahoma physicians more than $1 million each last year to treat patients in the Medicare program. Oklahoma Watch and the OU journalism school have won a $35,000 grant for a project focused on poverty in Oklahoma City. The Number of the Day is 419. That’s how many Oklahoma candidates filed to run for state or federal office on Wednesday. Filing continues through 5pm on Friday. In today’s Policy Note, the National Priorities Project lays out the differences between budget proposals by President Obama, House Republicans, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

continue reading In The Know: Sen. Sparks out as choice for minority leader after backing tax break for wells

In The Know: Oklahoma transportation official concerned about earthquake damage to bridges

by and | April 9th, 2014 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that a flurry of earthquakes in Oklahoma has prompted state transportation officials to get expert advice on what it might be doing to roadways and bridges. A new poll finds that almost two-thirds of Oklahoma voters support eliminating tax breaks for horizontal drilling in order to provide more funding for highways, education, and other state needs. For the second year in a row, the Oklahoma state Capitol has made a list of the most endangered historic places in the state.

An in-depth investigation by ThinkProgress uncovered a campaign against the homeless in Shawnee. The federal government has announced $6.6 million in grants to renew support for 55 homeless housing and service programs in Oklahoma. A bill that has passed the House and is heading for the full Senate could require a vote of the people on any zoning regulation — the type of land-use decisions now made on a weekly basis by city councils. Budget cuts set to end night time bus service in Tulsa are costing some riders their only form of transportation.

NewsOn6 reported on how schools are preparing for the multiple high-stakes tests set to begin this week. The House Education Committee approved reforms to grant new options for promotion to the fourth grade for students who fail a third-grade language arts test. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush accompanied Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on a tour of an Oklahoma City charter school. Rob Miller discussed a rural Oklahoma district that was gaining recognition and improving student test scores through innovative use of technology, but changes in the school report card formula dropped their grade to an ‘F’.

 Rep. David Derby, chairman of the House Public Health Committee, has refused to hear a bill that would require doctors to check their patients’ drug histories before writing narcotic prescriptions. Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel is complaining about the state Department of Correction’s moves to shift state inmates out of county jails. Oklahoma VA hospitals have paid out more than $200 million in wrongful death settlements over the past decade. State Senator Connie Johnson has become the first Democrat to enter the race for Tom Coburn’s soon to be vacant U.S. Senate seat.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahoma voters in a recent poll who opposed providing tax breaks to oil and gas companies for using horizontal drilling. In today’s Policy Note, Kaiser Health News discusses a new report showing that US prisons and jails hold 10 times more people with serious mental illness than do state hospitals.

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma transportation official concerned about earthquake damage to bridges