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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.
The number of state employees who worked 500 or more hours of overtime in a year doubled between 2010 and 2014, as state agencies are increasingly asking employees to work long hours to cover budget gaps [Tulsa World]. Every year, thousands of Oklahomans with mental-health or addiction problems call or show up at state-funded treatment centers and get little or no care, because Oklahoma’s mental health system limits most subsidized treatment to the seriously ill [Oklahoma Watch]. You can see a breakdown of how the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services prioritizes patients here. While analyzing where to make cuts within the state’s Medicaid agency budget, Oklahoma health leaders discovered millions of dollars being spent on expensive, medically unnecessary urine drug screenings [NewsOK].
The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority on Wednesday approved next year’s jail budget despite objections from three mayors who sit on the authority, who said a lack of oversight and misspending of funds attached to the jail should delay budget approval [Tulsa World]. State Sen. Brian Crain is urging changes to Oklahoma’s police arbitration rules after another incident with an Owasso police officer who the city had unsuccessfully tried to fire four years ago due to excessive force complaints [Tulsa World]. Oklahoma State University Regents voted to raise tuition 4.5 to 4.8 percent for students at OSU’s five campuses. University of Oklahoma officials are proposing tuition increases between 4 and 5 percent [NewsOK]. Steve Lewis discussed more about why Oklahoma’s attempt to ban teacher payroll deductions may be unenforceable [OK Policy Blog].
After already struggling through severe drought followed by damaging floods, Oklahoma wheat farmers are facing another hurdle with a closed Port of Catoosa that usually carries their product to markets outside of Oklahoma [State Impact Oklahoma]. State Rep. Seneca Scott has proposed an interim study to focus an “e-construction” record-keeping alternative for the state Transportation Department, as well as “road diets” that would redefine existing highway lane space for uses such as bike lanes, pedestrian refuge islands, bus lanes and/or parking [CapitolBeatOK]. Turmoil continues within the Oklahoma Republican Party over a controversial hire by new party Chairman Randy Brogdon of a staffer who pled guilty to domestic violence charges [Tulsa World].
The Number of the Day is -1.4 percent – the drop in Oklahoma’s total employment outside the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas since December. In today’s Policy Note, Nick Hanauer and David Rolf discuss how to protect the American middle class as the economy shifts to recasting full-time employees into contractors, vendors, and temporary workers [Democracy Journal].
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