In 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.
Three of the state’s major revenue streams – gross production taxes, sales taxes, and motor vehicle taxes – were lower than usual in May, resulting in gross receipts six percent lower than this time last year. Oklahoma City University economist Russell Evans told members of the Oklahoma City Economic Roundtable on Wednesday that state and local economies are growing despite a struggling oil and gas industry. Governor Fallin signed bills to extend the third-grade reading teams for three years and to share the circumstances of teachers’ firings or resignations with other school districts.
Policy Director Gene Perry explained in the Tulsa World and on the OK Policy Blog that we can’t build a stronger economy by slashing taxes. Executive Director David Blatt wrote in the Journal Record how bipartisan action in the Legislature resulted in criminal justice reform this year, including bills making it easier for some ex-offenders to obtain drivers licenses and find employment. These restrictions and others have kept many Oklahomans with felony records from rebuilding their lives after prison. Writing in her blog on The Frontier, Ziva Branstetter explained how Gov. Fallin’s lawyers are arguing that the state’s one-year delay before releasing records regarding the botched execution of Clayton Lockett does not constitute a denial and that her office has the authority to determine what constitutes “prompt and reasonable access” to public records.
The Tulsa World’s Editorial Board argued that primary elections in Oklahoma should be open to independent voters. Open primaries are just one way to boost electoral participation in the state. Project leaders working on the Oklahoma State Innovation Model are looking for business leaders to help build a plan to improve health outcomes for Oklahomans while lowering costs. Up to eight of Oklahoma City Public Schools’ 11 high schools may have new principals when students return in August.
Lawton officials have canceled a contract with a cloud-seeding firm following the city’s rainiest month on record. Following years of low crop yields due to drought, state wheat farmers say that recent heavy rains have wrecked the wheat crop in parts of the state, although officials say that damages in rainier parts of the state will be offset by gains elsewhere. The Number of the Day is 23.7% – the percentage of adults in Oklahoma who reported smoking in 2013, down from 26.1% in 2011. In today’s Policy Note, The Washington Post describes how imposing harsh sentences for drug offenses in the 1980s and 1990s now mean that prisons are home to thousands of elderly inmates who have been behind bars for decades.